Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Uttar'knd Disaster: Politics In The Midst Of Human Tragedy

From CJ Rashmi Kalia in Chandigarh

Despite the devastating events in Uttarakhand, our politicians have not hesitated from playing their petty political games to seek advantage over their political rivals. It is saddening to note that when the entire nation is mourning the loss of thousands of innocent lives in this tragedy, the politicians are only seeking political mileage out of the colossal human tragedy.     

The devastation caused by the flash floods in Uttarakhand is a tragedy of mass proportions for all of us.
Therefore, it’s saddening to witness that even with hundreds perished and thousands missing in the devastating tragedy of Uttarakhand, the politicians in our country have still found a role to play. 

The BJP found easy bait in Congress party vice president Rahul Gandhi as they posed queries to the Congress leadership last week over the absence of the Gandhi scion in Uttarakhand at a time when a massive tragedy has struck the region. 

However, Congress party spokesperson Raj Babbar was quick in pointing out that the top leadership, including chief Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, were monitoring the relief and rescue operations in Uttarakhand.

Raj Babbar also said, “It should not matter who has gone (to flood-hit areas) and who has not. The focus should be on rescue and relief operations. Both PM and Sonia are monitoring the situation". "The VIP visits hamper relief operations. Rahul Gandhi has not visited Uttarakhand keeping this in mind. He will visit as soon as the situation improves," Babbar told INN. "The entire focus is on rescue and relief operations before the weather worsens," He added.

All party MPs of the ruling party have been asked to donate Rs 10 lakh each from their local area development fund to fund the relief operations for Uttarakhand.  The party legislators, MPs and MLAs have also been asked to donate a month's salary. 

Last evening, Rahul Gandhi finally flew to Dehradun, eight days after floods devastated the state. However, his party reemphasized its stance by saying said the visit was “not as a VIP”, but as an ordinary Congressman, so as not to disrupt the relief operations. 

Meanwhile, Narendra Modi’s visit to the flood hit hill state and evacuation of 15,000 Gujaratis sparked off a slanging match between his BJP and the Congress. Modi added fuel to the fire by proposing that he would rebuild the Kedarnath temple.

Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said, “Now, in all this, if somebody wants to become a Rambo and claims he alone, in a span of two days during a trip of disaster tourism, brought out 15,000 people, I am afraid, for the lack of a better word, it just reflects rank opportunism and sheer desperation to try and politicize and even milk a tragedy for political reasons.”

The Congress' Oscar Fernandes differentiated between the public appearances of his party's top leaders from Mr Modi's parachute act in Uttarakhand.  He said that the presence of Mrs Gandhi and Rahul was only to encourage party workers engaged in relief operations.

Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said that only the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand should undertake aerial surveys of the flood-affected areas. He insisted that nothing should be allowed to impede the efforts of the rescue teams.

Even though Shinde criticised Gujarat Chief Minister for undertaking an aerial survey of the flood-affected areas, he gave a clean chit to the similar efforts of Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and Prithivraj Chavan of Maharashtra, both of the Congress, who too were in Uttarakhand to monitor the evacuation of people from their State. Chavan also held a press conference to detail the media over how his government had helped people from his state stuck in Uttarakhand.

Likewise, Haryana Chief Minister Bhoopinder Singh Hooda, also of the Congress, also undertook an aerial survey of Uttarakhand and monitored relief efforts to get people from his State to safety. It is clear that the Congress has been forced on the defensive after their prime minister-in-waiting Rahul Gabdhi became the subject of mocking on social media platforms. This is the prime reason that the congress is picking on Modi. 

This is also the reason why the Congress chose to make its presence felt. Congress president Sonia Gandhi flagged off 24 trucks carrying relief material to Uttarakhand from the party's Delhi headquarters. On stage with her was Rahul Gandhi, who had to make his presence felt after his absence was questioned from different quarters.

Tragedies acknowledge no boundaries. Uttarakhand is a famous pilgrim centre, hence it is obvious that the people who had gathered there belonged to all parts of India. 

Maybe our politicians can take a lesson from our army rescue teams who have displayed valorous efforts to evacuate thousands of stranded people to safety, no matter to which state or region the victims belonged to. Imagine, if our army jawans had stopped to ask the domicile of the victims before deciding to rescue them.

Time and again, our politicians have shown themselves incapable of rising above partisan politics.  Despite the extent of the tragedy, the politicians are merely trying to seek political mileage out of the situation. Our petty politicians need to understand that when it comes to scoring political points, there are other times and other places for it, not at a time and place of a calamity of this scale.

No comments: