Cadre seek to ‘hijack’ credit for Chennai floods aid

Volunteers complain of being forced to stick CM’s picture on relief material

December 06, 2015 12:00 am | Updated March 24, 2016 02:10 pm IST - Chennai:

Workers seen pasting pictures of Jayalalithaa on relief materialin Cuddalore.— PHOTO: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Workers seen pasting pictures of Jayalalithaa on relief materialin Cuddalore.— PHOTO: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Even before water has drained from many areas devastated by the rains and floods in Chennai and neighbouring Cuddalore, the politics of taking credit has already begun and the ruling AIADMK is bearing the brunt of the blame.

On Thursday, the social media, especially Facebook, was agog with complaints from volunteers engaged in flood relief operations about AIADMK men harassing them and forcing the volunteers to stick pictures of Chief Minister Jayalalithaa on the relief material brought in by them.

Facing flak from the public, especially on the social media, and seeking to quash the anger building up given the tardy relief operations, the party said volunteers facing problems from AIADMK cadre while undertaking relief operations can register their complaints and has provided the phone numbers. An AIADMK party member told The Hindu that they were aware of such complaints and had already swung into action. “There was one case, where volunteers had accused us of engaging in such activities. But we managed to catch red-handed four persons who were paid Rs. 25,000 each to defame the government. None of them are AIADMK cadre,” the official said.

“This is mass mischief and an attempt to bring disrepute to the party. In fact, the only relief material that have stickers of the Chief Minister are the ones that are being officially supplied by the government,” the representative said. Volunteers facing trouble from AIADMK workers or people allegedly claiming to be party workers can also contact the party through or tweet to @aiadmkofficial. “If they can take a video or record audio, we would take action,” he added.

People can also call 044-28130787, 044-28132266, 044-28133510.

At least two volunteers coordinating relief operations in Cuddalore said that their relief vehicles were stopped outside Cuddalore by partymen who tried to paste stickers of Jayalalithaa on the relief material. At some places, partymen even tried to force volunteers to hand over their relief material to them.

“Today morning, some AIADMK cadre blocked our vehicles carrying medicines and food to Cuddalore. They initially asked us to hand over the relief material to them . They backed off after we insisted that we would do it ourselves. But there are other teams where people claiming to be AIADMK cadre have forcibly stuck pictures of Jayalalithaa on the relief material,” one of the volunteers said. Another volunteer, Santhosh, who was coordinating relief work from Chennai, rushed to Cuddalore after a few vehicles with relief material were held up by AIADMK workers.

“A lot of relief material is coming from various places from common citizens just because we requested for it. How can these partymen come and put up stickers on such material? For the amount of money they spent on printing stickers of one person, they could have provided food, water and milk to a few hundred people. At least, that would be a humane thing to do,” Santhosh said.

“In fact, today we packed food in small individual packets to distribute it to a locality. When the food packets went out, these men came, diverted the vehicle, stuck pictures of Jayalalithaa and distributed the food. People of the original locality where this food was headed went hungry. We finally managed to arrange some food for them in the evening,” he added.

Discouraging donations

Meanwhile, people sending relief material from other cities are seemingly reluctant to bring it in after hearing such incidents on Facebook and Twitter.

“As more and more complaints come in, people who want to contribute and send relief material are now reluctant to do so. A couple of big business houses in Bengaluru were ready to send clothes and other relief material. After news of such harassment spread, they are now in two minds,” a volunteer said.

However, Rotarian Ramesh, Assistant Governor of Rotary in Cuddalore, provided the counter view. He said Rotarian units distributing flood relief materials in Cuddalore had not faced any hindrance. Many units have been camping in flood-affected regions for the last three days, he said.

( With inputsfrom S.Prasadin Cuddalore )

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