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Rahul Gandhi visiting Uttarakhand as citizen, not VVIP: Congress

New Delhi, Jun 24: Downplaying questions over the belated visit of Rahul Gandhi to Uttarakhand, Congress today said it was not necessary that all leaders visit the calamity- hit state together and hamper relief and
rahul gandhi visiting uttarakhand as citizen not...
PTI June 24, 2013 22:13 IST
New Delhi, Jun 24: Downplaying questions over the belated visit of Rahul Gandhi to Uttarakhand, Congress today said it was not necessary that all leaders visit the calamity- hit state together and hamper relief and rescue work.



The party also hit out at BJP for criticising the state government over the tragedy saying it has become an "obsessive compulsion disorder" of the latter to criticise.

"Rahul Gandhi is not going there as a VIP. He is going there as a citizen, as the Vice President of Congress to oversee that the relief materials reach in place. Rahul did not say I am a Rambo and I did this and I did that," party spokesperson Renuka Chowdhary told reporters as she tried to make a difference between Rahul's visit and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi's tour of flood-hit area.

"There are some people who have it in their habit to publicise everything that do. Had he been able to do this during Godhra, the situation would not have gone to that extent," she said.

She said Congress works as a team and it is not necessary that all leaders visit a place together and hamper the work.

Days after the flash flood tragedy struck Uttarakhand, Rahul, who was abroad, made his first public appearance flagging off relief materials for the victims. Party sources he is now camping in the flood-hit areas and will remain there at least tonight.

Chowdhary apparently lost cool, when asked why Rahul has been found absent during occasions, when the country is fighting some big crisis.

"You do not know what he (Rahul) is doing. What do you want we should be telling you when does he has his hair cut and such things? Everybody is not like that to publicise all petty things, when does he spit out, when does he sneeze," she said responding to questions on why does Congress party not tell what Rahul was doing on those occasions.

She also accused Modi of merely doing "shadow boxing" and "making posturing and preposterous statements". Reports had it that Modi evacuated 15,000 Gujaratis trapped in the hills during his Uttarakhand visit.

"Being a Rambo does not need brains and brawns we all have," Chowdhary said reacting sarcastically to media reports about Modi's rescue act.

Responding to questions about Modi earlier raising doubts over the Centre's Bharat Nirman programme, the Congress spokesperson said, "A paranoid person always looks at everything with suspicion. It's because of his handing of post-Godhra that he has doubts over everything."

She laughed at questions whether Congress had a Modi phobia and alluded to the internal dissension within the BJP. "What phobia will we have? Who punctured the BJP's balloon? Not us."

Asked about Modi's offer to rebuild the Kedarnath Temple, she said that it was for the Uttarakhand Chief Minister to decide whose help they want to take but wondered, "Why the offer is only for Kedarnath? Even the religious place of Sikhs has been damaged there."

Attacking the BJP, she said the Opposition party has a "short-sighted, tunnel vision" as they only criticise.

"I take pity on them for such an attitude they betray. All that they can do is merely criticise."

Chowdhary also came to the defence of Uttarakhand Chief Minister Vijay Bahuguna dismissing criticism about "sluggish" handling of the rescue and relief.

"It is not proper to say that the chief minister did this or the CM did not do this. It takes some time to decide, whenever such a problem suddenly comes. Such incidents happen all of a sudden," she said.

The Congress spokesperson said a total of 137 trucks have been sent for relief of which 57 were arranged by Youth Congress.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Rahul today flagged off a convoy of trucks carrying relief materials before the party Vice President left for Dehradun, where Congress has set up a control room to monitor the relief work being carried out by the party.

Asked as to why the offer of 24 helicopters given by Gujarat government was rejected, Chowdhary said it is not about being partisan or bi-partisan.

"Someone springs up in the middle of operations which have already been laid down, hence they have been rejected. If suddenly someone comes up in the middle which is not connected to the rest of the rescue operation. They are already in place. Sorties have also to be monitored," she said.

Giving details of the rescue, she said 12,000 people were rescued yesterday.

"83 helicopters have been working relentlessly in rescuing the people. Rains had given trouble to the choppers but all those pilots who are operating those choppers are doing an outstanding service.

"1,100 sorties have been completed by all those choppers in rescuing the individuals and more than 50 satellite phones have been pressed into service to ensure that there is connectivity," she said.

 

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