Janata Dal (United) MLA from Bihar’s Sheikhpura district, Randhir Kumar Soni, has been criticised for his response to a migrant worker’s question over the lack of sufficient jobs in the state, reported The Indian Express on Monday.
The incident took place on May 22 when the two-term MLA visited the quarantine centre in Chandi village for inspection. The labourer had questioned why the National Democratic Alliance-led central and state governments had failed to create enough job opportunities. In a widely shared video, the MLA is seen asking the migrant worker: “Your father raised you, did he give you any job?”
However, Soni defended himself saying that his remarks were directed at an individual he had known for a long time. “It is being blown out of proportion,” he said.
Leader of the Opposition in the Bihar Assembly Tejashwi Prasad Yadav termed the MLA’s statement as “insensitive”. “The MLA actually meant to say that when your father could not give you a job, then how will Nitish Kumar get you one?” Yadav tweeted. He further added that it was not the MLA speaking, but the “pride of the government being in power for 15 years”.
Yadav noted that the MLA was “fully protected when the police investigation reached out to him in a case of possessing illegal AK-47s”.
Soni’s comments came on the day after Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar interacted with migrant workers through a video conference and urged them to stay in their home state and participate in its development. “All those willing to stay back will be provided employment as per their skill sets,” Kumar said. He also asked industrialists to set up units in the state and assured them support from his government. The chief minister said that setting up these industries will contribute to the state’s development and also help people earn a livelihood.
The nationwide lockdown imposed on March 25 left several migrant workers stranded in their places of work. The lockdown has been extended till May 31. The Centre began running ‘Shramik Special’ trains on May 1 to help the migrant workers reach home.
On Saturday, the Indian Railways said it will run an additional 2,600 special trains in the next 10 days to transport nearly 36 lakh stranded migrant workers. However, many are still walking, cycling, dangerously hitchhiking home, sometimes over distances of more than 1,000 km, often on empty stomachs. More than 170 people have died in accidents on the way.