Uttarakhand tragedy: BJP, Congress in war of words



Zee Media Bureau

New Delhi: As Uttarakhand is trying to come to terms with the unprecedented devastation caused by flash floods and landslides, the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party traded embarassing tweets on Monday.

Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari today hit out at the BJP Leaders of Opposition (LOP) Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley for not visiting calamity-hit Uttarakhand.

"H'onble LOP's have mindspace to critique govt proposals on CBI autonomy that are yet to be placed before SC but no time to visit Uttrakhand," he tweeted. Another tweet said, "Did anyone see LOP's in both houses express sympathy/visit disaster hit Uttrakhand This from a party that criticizes visits of. Cong leaders."

Replying to this, Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj tweeted: "We did not go to Uttarakhand because Home Minister (Sushilkumar Shinde) made a public statement that our visit will hamper the rescue effort."

Shinde "went to the extent of saying that nobody including himself was allowed to land anywhere," added Swaraj.

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi was the only big BJP leader to visit the state.

Criticising the Government in Uttarakhand for not being "able to rise to the occasion", Swaraj tweeted that it ought to be dismissed for being "inept and incompetent".

She also targeted the UPA government at the Centre on the issue.

"Unfortunately, the Government in Delhi has also failed to provide the requisite leadership," she added.

This is the first time that the BJP has strongly and openly come out against the Vijay Bahuguna government on the issue of rescue and relief operations in the hill state.

Senior leaders of the main opposition had avoided any harsh comments and confined their demand to declaring the tragedy a national calamity.

"The truth is that I woke you up about the scale of tragedy when I spoke to Home Minister on 18th June and tweeted about this," she said.

Making a scathing attack on the Congress-led UPA government, she said the Opposition will not allow the government to get away lightly by accusing other parties of playing politics when they point out to the shortcomings of the regime.

"When we enforce accountability, you call it politics.We will not allow you this escape route to hide your failures," Swaraj said.

She maintained that the government has done nothing which it could claim credit for and all rescue operations have been done by Army, Air Force and ITBP at the cost of their lives.

The BJP leader said she salutes the efforts of the defence and paramilitary forces.

"What has your state government done? Nothing.The living are starving. The dead are being robbed. And you are patting your back.Those who cannot govern in crisis do not deserve to be in the government even for a day," Swaraj said.

Meanwhile, Congress spokesperson Bhakta Charan Das told a news agency that he felt pity why "Sushmaji and Arun Jaitleyji", who are "responsible persons", couldn't discharge their responsibility and visited Uttarakhand.

Notably, there was still no clarity over the number of deaths in the flood-ravaged Uttarakhand, with a state minister on Sunday not ruling out an "estimate" of 10,000-plus and Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna putting the number of missing people at 3,000.

The incessant and intense rains that hit the hill state over three days from June 14 triggered flash floods and landslides, leading to hundreds of deaths and resulting in hundreds more going missing.

(With PTI inputs)