After Congress offered Rs 2 crore, Karnataka gave migrants a free ride

BENGALURU: The Karnataka government on Sunday decided to offer free travel for migrants returning by KSRTC buses after it decided to charge a fare that invited huge criticism and Congress made two checks of Rs 1 crore each one to say that it is willing to take the workers' commuter bill.

Ever since the BS Yediyurappa government on Thursday took a decision to allow migrant workers to return home, it has faced one embarrassment after another over exorbitant fare, its rollback and lack of planning to implement the plan.

With public anger building up and political parties looking to turn the heat on the government , Karnataka chief minister BS Yediyurappa and his deputy held a telephonic conversation around 7am on Sunday and decided to make the travel free of charge for thousands of migrant labourers pouring into Majestic to catch a bus home.

At 10.45am, Congress leaders Siddaramaiah, DK Shivakumar, HK Patil, Dinesh Gundu Rao, Krishna Byregowda, Priyank Kharge and Saleem Ahmed trooped to the Majestic and handled the situation by assisting the workers. At the bus stop, Congress released photographs of two checks of Rs 1 crore each issued to KSRTC managing director on May 2 by DK Shivakumar and Dinesh Gundu Rao to buy bus tickets for migrants.

The Congress claimed victory for the rollback of fare for migrant workers, with Shivakumar saying that his party is “ready to pay for their food and travel if the government cannot”.

On the backfoot, the government tried to defend its one-way-fare decision as a deterrent and said if migrants were allowed to travel without paying a fare, then Bengaluru would have lost 60% of its workforce. Savadi told TOI: “By Saturday, the situation was getting out of hand and labourers were landing by the hundred at Majestic bus stand. There was no choice, but to announce a free passage home".

The BJP government has seven cabinet ministers from Bengaluru, neither the party nor the government representatives were present on the ground to attend to the needs of the migrants, a source said.

"The government is blind, deaf and heartless to migrants’ plight. Not a single minister visited or assisted the people at Majestic. As a responsible opposition, Congress is ready to pay for their food and travel," said KPCC president D K Shivakumar

Deputy prime minister Laxman Savadi said, If Congress is overly concerned, then let it contribute to the CM or PM relief fund. They are trying to get political mileage. Nothing else.

April 30th : Government allows migrant workers to leave or enter Bengaluru as part of a statewide one-way, one-day scheme

May 1: KSRTC overpaid for migrant land govt soup

May 2: Govt's fare pairs, to charge for a one-way trip. Congress leaders DK Shivakumar and Dinesh Gundu Rao paid KSRTC Rs 1 crore each for migrant ticket fares

May 3: Govt announced free travel for migrants on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.