In India, tragic incidents have always been marked by theatrics and drama by the political class much to the chagrin of those who suffer at its hands. The mass tragedy caused by the Uttarakhand floods didn’t spared our eminent politicians from trying to hog the limelight in this hour of heart rending tragedy. Be it be the lackadaisical approach of the Uttarakhand Chief Minister who was busy scheduling his Switzerland itinerary or the way Narendra Modi ( our much hailed NaMo ) campaigned for his Gujarat model even while he had gone to visit the flood affected areas . Also the goof up which his PR agency made while announcing that he flew down 15,000 Gujaratis from Uttarakhand on his own. The overenthusiastic Indian media didn’t even cared to check the veracity of the statement and publicized it even more quite zealously. It was quite late that an Article published in TOI made sense enough to rubbish such outrageous claims. Narendra Modi’s offer to help by giving away his helicopters and to build Kedarnath Temple was also shown the door by the Uttarakhand Chief Minister.
Then when Narendra Modi left then we had a famous duel between TDP & Congress leaders of Andhra Pradesh who wanted the victims to fly with them. This is not yet over, the biggest one is yet to come . While till now we kept on talking about how these parties tried to hog the limelight, the biggest of these public gimmicks was done by none other than Sonia Gandhi who waited 72 crucial hours while the survivors died out of hunger and lack of water to ‘flag off’ the trucks carrying relief materials after Rahul Gandhi returned from his Spain trip. This was shambolic and a shining example of the ebbs to which politicians have fallen in modern India that they kept on delaying it so as to gain some brownie points in the eyes of the common public. I am starkly critical of all these incidents as they yet again proved that Politics is a selfish ‘business’ in India and is yet to rise above petty things even in hours of crisis . In the face of this tragedy, the man who disappointed the most was Uttarakhand CM- Vijay Bahuguna. He was busy alleging the centre that it didn’t had any mechanism to deal with such catastrophe rather than taking the blame on himself as to how around 67,000 tourists were allowed in the region even when Metrological Department has issued several warnings. His counter allegations and refusal to accept Narendra Modi’s help of over two dozen helicopters and his offer to help reconstruct Kedarnath Temple was met with widespread angst. However, it can be argued that Modi’s intent was also to gain brownie points by doing this and hence he publicised this quite openly.
Rescue operations by the Army Personnels .
Heroism was in vogue among politicians amidst the rising number of people who were dying and were being rescued at Ground Zero by the real heroes of this tragedy – i.e., the Army personnel who helped them selflessly to ensure that they were rescued safely. Congress MLA from MP Sanjay Pathak claimed that he saved some passengers through his helicopter and this led to almost a stampede at the Dehradun Airport with every politician lining up his aircraft so as to ‘claim’ that he ‘saved’ x number of people. All this was happening when there were not even centres to keep track and information of all the missing people in the tragedy .
I am not a pessimist but my optimism has lost in colour by the incidents that I saw in this hour of crisis. While some leaders were shedding crocodile tears over the issue, they had done less to ensure that more problems do not further arise due to it. Much of the Relief work was even stopped when Sonia Gandhi and PM Manmohan Singh were taking an aerial survey of the flood affected areas, quite ensconced in their private luxury jet while people were dying due to hunger. It’s such a shame that while Politics was supposed to be a noble profession to serve the society, it has rather become a selfish and profitable business in the present scenario in the World’s Largest Democracy.
The Rescue operation is over by now and many people are still missing and are trapped within the debris. This tragic incident exposed the vulnerability of our Disaster management Techniques and made a mockery of all the grand claims that the Govt. had made post the 2004 Tsunami which had killed 11,000 people in India. The estimated death toll is expected to touch 3,000 at least with more than that people still missing. Vijay Bahuguna , Narendra Modi and Rahul Gandhi are mere names , the thing which we need to cleanse the most is the standard at which politics is done in India . While Politicians keep on denying their obligations and continue their blame game , it’s the life of the common man that suffers the most .
- Shashank Saurav