The crash of an Indian Air Force helicopter on a rescue mission in Uttarakhand on Tuesday proved how difficult it was to carry out relief work in the hilly terrain. Though the accident killed 20 people, the IAF continued with the rescue work. But politicians who have to mark their presence in the disaster zone for their own political survival seem not to be driven by any noble considerations.
Thus, overruling the Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde’s order to the Uttarakhand Government that no VIP should be allowed to land in the flood- ravaged areas so that rescue work is not hindered, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday conducted an aerial survey of Guptkashi and Kedernath - the epicenter of the floods.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi had already done an aerial survey of the devastation. So, no one could explain what Rahul’s aerial survey achieved while thousands are still awaiting evacuation. The only explanation available from the Congress was that Rahul went there not as a VIP, but a citizen. Rahul had flown to Uttarakhand apparently to oversee the relief and rescue operations that the Congress is undertaking. He spent the night at the air-base camp in Guptkashi, interacting with the pilots and the families of the survivors. This was quite contrary to what Shinde said. “I had told the Uttarakhand Government not to allow any VIP except for Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna to land in the rain-hit area as concentration should be on relief and rehabilitation work for the pilgrims,” he said in Patna.
Earlier, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi similarly ignored Shinde’s instructions and made a highly publicised visit to the state and claimed to have rescued several thousands of Gujarati pilgrims in one fell swoop. If Modi’s claim was ridiculed as a “Rambo act”, Rahul’s “Citizen Kane act” is not being taken too kindly either. Both attracted attention to themselves when the armed forces and survivors who walked miles to reach safety should be getting all the credit and kudos, an official said in Dehradun.