TDP president’s operation airlift spurs the Chief Minister into action

For the second consecutive day, the Congress government and the main Opposition, Telugu Desam competed with each other in airlifting Telugu pilgrims who were rescued from the flood-ravaged areas of Uttarakhand to their native places.

Stung by the criticism that the government has failed to provide prompt relief to Telugu pilgrims and embarrassed by the TDP president, N. Chandrababu Naidu’s action in rushing to Dehradun and chartering a special flight to Hyderabad, the Chief Minister, N. Kiran Kumar Reddy flew to New Delhi on Tuesday to oversee rescue and relief operations.

Mr. Reddy’s visit to Delhi coincided with the government hiring a special flight to send 188 pilgrims from New Delhi to Hyderabad, a belated action, considering the fact that TDP did it on Monday itself. This government chartered flight took off from Delhi at 5.15 p.m but TDP leaders, sources said, saw to it that about 20 pilgrims board Air India flight at 4 p.m to take them directly to Visakhapatnam.

Expecting the Chief Minister later in the day, Mr. Naidu, who is camping Delhi for the last two days, met pilgrims camping in AP Bhavan again in the morning to give them the assurance that his party would ensure their safe return to their native places.

Mr. Naidu later told media persons that his gesture was purely humanitarian and nothing to do with politics. “I was moved by the plight of the pilgrims and wanted to leave no stone unturned in reaching out to them. There would not have been any need for doing this, if the government had acted in time.”

The TDP president told media persons that while all other State Government were organising helicopters to bring stranded pilgrims to Dehradun, the AP government continued to be reluctant with the result was Telugu pilgrims were forced stay in abysmal conditions. That was the reason why he made party MPs rush to such places. MP, Ramesh Rathod managed to reach Badrinath where he found as many as 400 Telugu pilgrims stranded there for seven days.

After the government set up a medical camp at AP Bhavan for the benefit of pilgrims, the Telugu Desam tried to do the same but officials asked them to vacate the place on Tuesday. Angry TDP MPs, including their leader Nama Nageswara Rao, took up the issue with Civil Supplies Minister, D. Sridhar Babu who promised to pull up the officials.