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Uttarakhand disaster – Rahul Gandhi making a liar out of his own Home Minister ..




Things are getting more confusing. Soon after Narendra Modi paid the affected areas of Uttarakhand a visit (and the whole visit is clouded in controversy, with points about the number of people evacuated, about whether he got only Gujaratis out vs. others, and so on – the BJP has clamped down on any statements about this visit, not claiming any credit or not really reacting when the Congress made fun of this trip), the Congress came out all guns blazing and finally laid down a policy. So, since there was already a lot of discussion in the TV about VVIP’s going to the area and causing disturbances to the entire relief effort (ironically, the first VVIP’s to do an aerial survey were the Prime Minister and the Congress President while the full scale of the tragedy was being realized and the relief force was not yet in full operation), what the Home Minister and the Chief Minister of Uttarakhand stated seemed sensible – that there was no need for any VVIP to be in the region. Their presence, with the media attention, with the security that they carry and the arrangements to transport them were all disruptive. Further, the area is still not safe, with the route for helicopters also meeting harsh weather and fog, and roads being in a miserable condition. So, attempts by VVIP for what are basically photo-opportunities are to be avoided, and it sounds right.
Now, here is the enigma called Rahul Gandhi. When all this disaster was happening and the relief operation was in place, there was a rush in the media to get some sound bytes from Rahul Gandhi, since he is after all the person whom the Congress wants to portray as their leader for the next elections, and they could not find him. When Rahul Gandhi was out of the country, no one in the party is willing to commit any information on where he is, since for such questions, he is not a major public figure but is instead a private citizen. Just a few weeks back, he had his birthday and the assumption was that he would go some abroad to celebrate, and the functions that were held here did not show him in it. And even after the disaster came and there was the days and weeks of effort, for the first few days, Rahul Gandhi was nowhere to be seen. It is fine to say that he was not inside the country when the disaster happened, and hence it was not his fault, but it makes for a public relations disaster when the media and opposition asks about the presence of the leader of the party, and the party keeps mum (they do not even admit to his being outside the country, as if that is a state secret).
He finally came back to the country, and when he did come back, the party used him to flag off a convoy of trucks providing relief to the disaster zone (which was a noble gesture, but there were a lot of backlash about why the party waited for him to come before flagging off such a relief convoy, and whether there was any need for such a relief convoy); further, the poor state of the local administration is outlined in this report which talks about where the relief convoy currently is (convoy stalled, not sure about where to go).
This visit of his was covered in the new channels, some of which took glee in pointing him out in a IAF helicopter, and in another flash, showed him in a convoy of vehicles. Now, this is a gentleman who is the head of the ruling party, he is the son of another politician who was assassinated, and hence has been accorded SPG security; which in turn asks for coordination with the police forces of the state where he is going to be in; so how can the Congress claim that his movement was without any disturbance to anybody, and that he was moving around only by road, not using any resources that is being used for relief. When the Congress spokesperson were asked about these details, they were caught on the back foot, just like the BJP was pushed on the back foot when there were the reports about Rambo Modi and his ‘rescuing’ of 15,000 people.
This is not the first time that Rahul Gandhi seems to be a law on his own, without any kind of restraints. I remember an occasion in the Lokpal debated in Parliament, where, in the time reserved for question hour, where no speeches are allowed, the Speaker, Meira Kumar, allowed him to make a 10 minute speech which he himself praised later as a game changer (it is another matter that he did absolutely nothing later in the direction in which his speech was intended). This post does not want to criticize Rahul Gandhi, but there is a certain feeling of arrogance and the right to do whatever he wants which seems to come out of his actions, and that is very disturbing.




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