Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray took a dig at Railways Minister Piyush Goyal on Sunday evening, saying he wanted to “thank” him for the 800 shramik trains that had helped 11 lakh stranded migrants return to their home states.
In a televised address to the state that focused on lockdown relaxation – “Mission: Begin Again” – Mr Thackeray said Mr Goyal “got angry with me… he took it to (his) heart and sent trains to Maharashtra”.
“Today we have sent 16 lakh migrants to their villages via trains and buses. About 800 trains carried 11 lakh migrants. Today I want to thank Piyush Goyal. Last time he got angry with me… he took it to heart and sent trains to Maharashtra, because of which 11 lakh migrants could go home,” Mr Thackeray said.
Mr Thackeray’s comment came after an acerbic exchange between his government and the Railways minister over scheduling of shramik trains.
On May 26 Mr Goyal lashed out at Chief Minister Thackeray’s government for a second time in three days, accusing it of not providing information about passengers and causing several shramik trains to be delayed or cancelled.
The Maharashtra government, which alleged it got only half the trains (40) it had asked for (80), rubbished the charges, accusing the minister of “doing politics”.
Earlier Mr Goyal kept prodding the Maharashtra government till 2 AM on May 25.
“Where is the list for 125 trains from Maharashtra? As of 2 am, received list of only 46… We are notifying only 41 trains for today despite being prepared for 125!!!” he said.
Mr Goyal’s barbs provoked Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut into responding. Mr Raut said the state government had already provided the list of passengers and added: “The only request is that the train should reach the station, as announced earlier.”
The squabble between Maharashtra and the Railways started after Mr Thackeray, in a video address to the state on May 24, said he was getting only half the number of trains requested. He also said the state had paid Rs 85 crore for trains till that point.
Mr Goyal retorted in a dozen tweets over the next few hours, saying the Railways was ready to send as many trains as required to states, provided they do not “return empty”, in a reference to instances where migrants did not take the trains and set out for their home states on foot or in trucks.