Despite Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna’s repeated assertions that his tiny hill State with a budget of `25,000 crore was in no way equipped to handle the massive scale of tragedy the flashfloods brought, not many in Delhi are buying his argument.
Bahuguna’s sloppy handling of the ‘natural’ disaster, many believe, compounded the situation as he virtually left it to the armed forces and the respective State governments to do the rescue and relief operations for thousands of stranded pilgrims with minimal coordination from the State government. In fact, the embarrassing televised fist-fight between Congress MP Hanumanth Rao and TDP MPs, led by Chandrababu Naidu, on Wednesday, over the rescue of Andhra-bound pilgrims, sources in the Congress say, was primarily because the State government had no role to play in the matter.
“The State administration is hardly noticeable, anyone can walk in — it’s a free-for-all situation,” a Congress minister said, adding that he has been told that the party leadership is “seething”.
Indications that the days of the Uttarakhand CM could be numbered abound.
While Bahuguna frequently made overnight trips to Delhi (Thursday was no different), sources said, Defence Minister A K Antony reviewed the time-consuming and hazardous rescue operations being done by the armed forces completely on his own, with little or no interface with the State government.