Relief aid politics hit a new low

Relief aid politics hit a new low

In a new low in politics over relief work, TDP and Congress leaders came to blows at the Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun on Wednesday. Senior leaders...

dehradun incidentIn a new low in politics over relief work, TDP and Congress leaders came to blows at the Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun on Wednesday. Senior leaders from both parties indulged in mutual blame game, vying for one-upmanship on the relief work and on whose plane the stranded pilgrims should go back. The ugly scuffle, in front of hundreds of stranded Telugus and army personnel, shifted the focus away from relief work to political parties vying for credit. It was in sharp contrast to the quiet work being done by the Army to rescue the stranded and suffering passengers.

The provocation was which of the two planes, each arranged by the Andhra Pradesh Government and the TDP to transport the stranded Telugu pilgrims back home. TDP leaders Ramesh Rathod and K Narayana pushed around former APCC President V Hanumanth Rao, even as the police tried to disengage them. AP Minister Uttam Kumar Reddy was also seen losing his cool with TDP leader K Narayana, on whom he was seen shouting. Also present at the melee were Minister D Sridhar Babu and Union Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment Minister P Balram Naik.

TDP MP Ramesh Rathod claimed that it was his party that was organising relief work as the State Government had failed to do anything for the Telugu pilgrims He charged at Hanumanth Rao, even as policemen tried their best to pull him away. Hanumanth Rao was dazed by the development. Unapologetic over the incident, Ramesh Rathod claimed that there was no reason for him to express regrets and it was for Hanumanth Rao to apologise for using unparliamentary language. He took the position that the TDP was desperate to hijack credit for the relief work. According to him, the fight broke out when the TDP leaders tried to grab pilgrims away from the plane organised by the State Government, even after boarding passes were issued to the passengers.

While the Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy spent the day mostly at AP Bhavan, consoling the pilgrims, TDP supremo N Chandrababu Naidu had rushed to Dehradun to personally oversee the relief work undertaken by the party. He defended the scuffle, to which he was a witness, on the ground that Kiran Kumar Reddy had failed to visit Uttarakhand. While Naidu earned a name for himself by his prompt response to the situation and organising relief work, the airport incident has cast a shadow.

However, Naidu explained that the plane organised by him would fly up to Visakhapatnam and it was for the pilgrims to decide on it. His sole aim was to help the victims to reach their homes safely. From Harsil, 91 pilgrims have been airlifted. Even from Badrinath, stranded pilgrims will be helped, Naidu said adding he would remain stay put until all the Telugu pilgrims are safely transported back to their homes. He rushed a medical team to Badrinath, after he received telephone calls from the stranded pilgrims who had fallen ill.

Venkat Parsa

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