The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has said the centre does not discriminate between states and that the recently launched repatriation exercise ”Vande Bharat Mission” was meant for all stranded Indians, including those from West Bengal.

Responding to the allegation made by a West Bengal minister that the centre was discriminating against the state and not organising any repatriation flight to the state under the largest evacuation exercise, External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava tweeted late last night, “MEA does not discriminate between states. Government of India`s ‘’Vande Bharat Mission’’ is for all stranded Indians, including those from West Bengal. Over 3700 of them have registered for repatriation from different parts of the world.”

In another tweet, he said, ”Will gladly facilitate flights to Kolkata if the state government will confirm arrangements to receive and quarantine. Will also help in return of West Bengal residents through land borders with neighbours. We hope to receive an early response on the matter.”

The spokesperson’s tweets came after West Bengal Minister Partha Chatterjee tweeted, “Is the MEA asking us to believe that there are enough people to come from Georgia to Gujarat but none want to come to Kolkata? Also, there are enough people to come back to Bihar from Kyrgyzstan but not enough to bring back to Bengal. Stop this injustice!”

He also stated in another tweet, “Bengal will welcome its people from any part of the world with open arms and since Honourable Prime Minister (Modi) is talking about `vocal for local`, why can`t we have our poor migrant brothers & sisters reach their homes in these special flights instead of walking barefoot for thousands of km?”

The West Bengal government and the centre have been at loggerheads over several issues, including trains for migrant workers and the manner in which the pandemic was being fought by the state government.