The Trinamul leadership has decided to bring at least 3,000 migrant workers from Bengal currently in different locations in the National Capital Region (NCR) to Jantar Mantar on Tuesday as part of its attempt to highlight the plight of people in rural parts of the state after the Narendra Modi government froze funds under some central schemes, including the 100 days' rural jobs.
As part of its two-day protest in Delhi, Bengal's ruling Trinamul, led by the party's national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee, is trying to create a narrative on how the Centre's step-motherly attitude has resulted in rural distress and forced thousands of people to leave Bengal in search of jobs.
"Thousands of people from Bengal migrated to Delhi, Mumbai, and several other northern and southern states of the country since the BJP government refused to release funds to our state. A section of them, who stay in Delhi and its adjoining pockets, will join our protest at Jantar Mantar on Tuesday," said Trinamul Rajya Sabha member Samirul Islam.
Islam is also the chairman of the newly formed West Bengal Migrant Workers' Welfare Board.
A source said that these migrant workers, along with 3,500 deprived job card holders from the state who have been taken to Delhi in buses by the Trinamul leadership, will raise their demand for the release of due wages and resumption of funds flow for MGNREGS in Bengal.
A senior Trinamul leader said the decision to include migrant workers in Jantar Mantar protest was Abhishek's idea. Abhishek had planned the Delhi protest as part of a political battle against the Narendra Modi government at the Centre.
The BJP in Bengal has been attacking Trinamul over lakhs of migrant workers from Bengal, citing unemployment in the state. Migrant workers who take part in Trinamul's Delhi protest would help Bengal's ruling party counter the BJP narrative, a source said.
The source added the Bengal government set up the migrants' welfare board and decided to update their records through the Duare Sarkar camps to woo the statistically significant migrant community. In the last edition of Duare Sarkar camps which ended on September 30, around 15 lakh migrant workers registered in camps set up across Bengal.
Earlier estimates suggest that Bengal has about 32 lakh migrant workers, including 5 lakh who work in the Gulf.
"The participation of migrant workers will add another dimension to our protest.... We are trying to bring young migrant workers, especially those who had to come to Delhi between December 2021 and March 2023. It will be a befitting reply to the BJP's narrative," said a senior Trinamul leader.
Trinamul leaders fielded its workers headed by Samirul Islam, who visited different colonies of Delhi and its adjoining areas, to inform migrant workers about the party's Jantar Mantar protest.
Dulal Mahato, a migrant worker from Purulia who currently works in Gurgaon, will be one of the participants at Trinamul's protest on Tuesday.
"I shifted to Gurgaon as a construction worker in January 2022. I would not have had to leave my state if I got employment in my village under the Centre's rural jobs scheme. I will take part in the protest to demand MGNREGS is resumed as I want to go home," said Mahato.