Bhopal: Even as Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan is being lauded by people for rescuing state pilgrims stranded in Uttarakhand, he has also been criticised by the Opposition Congress for trying to gain `publicity` out the issue.
Chouhan and his team of officials led by Public Relations and Culture Minister Laxmikant Sharma were appreciated on social media for launching relief and rescue operations in the hill state, in time by deploying helicopters and special planes, party leaders claimed.
Chouhan tweeted after arriving with stranded pilgrims in a special plane that, "Apart from rescuing pilgrims from Madhya Pradesh, our rescue teams have rescued 1,810 pilgrims from various states without any discrimination."
Later, in another tweet, Chouhan said, "MP choppers rescued 292 pilgrims from MP and 247 from other states as well."
The state teams have so far rescued nearly 5,500 MP pilgrims from the rain-ravaged Uttarakhand, sources said.
However, the confusion over rescuing a girl Neha alias Snehlata, who claimed that she was unable to find her parents who had gone for pilgrimage to Kedarnath, and Chouhan offering her all assistance drew criticism from Leader of Opposition in state Assembly Ajay Singh.
Ajay questioned the "hurriedness" of Chouhan and alleged that he had done so for getting "cheap publicity."
Neha`s parents arrived in the state capital next day upon hearing that she was in Bhopal and later her story turned out to be totally fictitious as her parents had not gone to Uttarkhand this season and she somehow reached the hill state after leaving from her hometown Bhind (not Gwalior) for Delhi.
However, former vice chancellor and retired IPS officer Arun Gurtoo, who is also a social activist, praised Chouhan`s government for rescuing large number of stranded pilgrims in such a difficult situation.
"Chouhan is a sensitive person and I admire him for rescuing so many people by sending rescue teams to the rain ravaged state, especially when a lot of confusion was prevailing in that state," Gurtoo told a news agency.
"It is the duty of the state to protect its citizens especially when it sends them on pilgrimage," he added.