In an interaction with 51 pilgrims who returned from Uttarakhand on Saturday, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah emphasised that the State government's rescue operations were “not a publicity exercise, but was a humanitarian one.”

Alluding to the controversial claim by Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi about rescuing 15,000 Gujaratis, he said: “Our aim was not just rescuing people from Karnataka: we helped everyone in trouble.”

When pressed to comment on Mr. Modi’s claims, the Chief Minister did not give a direct answer.

However, Information Minister Santosh Lad, who spent 13 days in Uttarakhand with the State rescue team, said: “Honestly speaking, I know how difficult rescue was. If anyone is claiming they rescued 15,000 people at one go, then I have nothing to say to such tall claims. If someone has been able to achieve this, then he should be heading all the rescue operations everywhere.”