Uttarakhand tragedy: When votes were swept away

Even as the nation is yet to come to terms with the huge devastation caused by the Uttarakhand floods, it fills me with disgust to see how our politicians have tried to exploit the tragedy. The harsh reality is that even a disaster of such gigantic proportions has failed to change the callous attitude of those who represent `we the people` in Parliament.

While politicians have to play politics, the question is about the timing. Was there a necessity to continue with the trade even when the whole country stood united to help those were afflicted? Because even as the survivors looked for succor, our politicians were busy trading charges with each other.

Rather than arguing over who all visited the flood-ravaged state first, or how much a particular state government donated for relief, political leaders should have come forward in unison and coordinated on relief and rehabilitation efforts. The ugly drama of political one-upmanship that unfolded at Dehradun airport, when TDP and Congress leaders came to blows in a squabble for credit, is damaging for the spirit of nationhood.

The rush to conduct aerial visits of flood-ravaged Uttarakhand by politicians seemed more like a political stunt to score brownie points, be it the Congress-BJP tussle over Narendra Modi’s ‘Rambo’ act or Rahul Gandhi’s delayed visit to the rain-battered area.

If all this was not enough, some of our tech savvy leaders sitting in their comfort zones opted to fight each other on the social networking websites.

In my opinion, none of the national parties, whether it be Congress, the BJP or the Communists, displayed a genuine sense of urgency or maturity.

When thousands of stranded people were dying of hunger, Congress had the time to organise an official flagging off ceremony by party chief Sonia Gandhi and vice president Rahul Gandhi. On the other hand, the BJP just dispatched the relief material and funds raised for Uttarakhand.

And why only blame the political class, the corporate sector should also be questioned. None of the big industrialists came forward and offered to donate, except a few public sector companies.

According to some rescued pilgrims, some private companies that offered helicopters for rescue had asked for money from the stranded souls and that when the Uttarkhand government was paying the chopper companies for the services rendered. Disgusting!

When teary-eyed survivors recount their horrors and blame the `incompetent` government for adding to their woes, it is really time for a reality check. Why don’t politicians understand that trading abuses at a time of catastrophe will not get votes, but, surely, extending help to people would help. Their sensible and honest approach to the whole issue was the need of the hour.

I am not saying that politicians or bureaucrats should have trekked up the mountains to rescue those stranded in the hills but they have to take the blame for falling short of the expectations of the people who have elected them to rule.

It’s high time that political parties should set aside their political war and sit together and work on a road map to rebuild the hilly state.