Even as tales of miseries and hardship continued to pour in from the flood-ravaged Uttarakhand, the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party on Sunday traded charges over relief and rescue efforts.

While the Congress attacked Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi over his grandiose claim that he had rescued 15,000 stranded Gujaratis in Uttarakhand, the BJP sought to brush aside the tirade against Mr. Modi.

Accusing Mr. Modi of milking the tragedy for political reasons, Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari said he was tom-tomming myths of grand rescue after having simply made a “tourist detour” via the deluged State.

“Congress’ habit”

BJP leader Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, however, dismissed the Congress’ attack, saying it had the habit of faulting Opposition leaders when they tried to do their bit during times of national crisis.

In a hard-hitting attack on Mr. Modi, Congress general secretary and Communication Department in-charge Ajay Maken said: “This is not a time for politicising a disaster and least so for a political-credit-taking exercise.

Senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh said this was not a time for anyone to project themselves. “Narendra Modi is using the media to push his own interests. Mr. Modi is taking credit for people already evacuated by administration and the army,” he said.

Referring to the statement Mr. Modi made on Sunday that the Prime Minister must answer for the beheading of Indian soldiers near the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir earlier this year, Mr. Maken said such remarks were “malicious” and aimed at de-motivating the armed forces, which are conducting relief operations on a war footing in Uttarakhand.

“People of this country [can clearly see] how the personal ambitions […] of Narendra Modi can make him use such words that would mar relief operations,” Mr. Maken said.

During his address at a rally in Pathankot earlier in the day, Mr. Modi had said the Prime Minister must explain why his government was treating former Pakistan Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf to a lavish lunch in Jaipur mere weeks after Indian soldiers were beheaded by Pakistanis near the LoC.

Kudos to armed forces

Mr. Maken thanked the defence and paramilitary forces for showing extraordinary discipline and courage and valour in Uttarakhand, where they were able to “save the lives of tens of thousands of stranded pilgrims and local population”.

He pointed out that Congress Chief Ministers too had visited the State in the past few days “without any fanfare”.

He said Congress treasurer Motilal Vora and party general secretary Ambika Soni were on Sunday be setting up various relief camps in the State and coordinating relief material coming from different States. On Monday, Congress president Sonia Gandhi will flag off relief material from Delhi to Uttarakhand.

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