A war of words has broken out between the Congress and the BJP over visiting flood and landslides-hit Uttarakhand state, with leaders from both parties throwing charges against one another.

It started with a tweet from Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari questioning the absence of Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley from Uttarakhand. Swaraj and Jaitley are leaders of opposition in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha respectively.

Uttarakhand people
Seeking Help: Over 1 lakh people have been evacuated and thousands are said to be missing in the flash floods that ravaged the state

“H’onble LOPs (leaders of opposition) have mindspace to critique government on CBI autonomy that are yet to be placed before SC (Supreme Court) but no time to visit Uttarakhand,” Tewari said on social networking site Twitter. “Did anyone see LOPs in both houses express sympathy/visit disaster hit Uttarakhand. This from a party that criticizes visits of Congress leaders,” he said.

Counter attack
Replying to the comment, Swaraj said, “We did not go to Uttarakhand because home minister (Sushilkumar Shinde) made a public statement that our visit will hamper the rescue effort.”

“He went to the extent of saying that nobody, including himself, was allowed to land anywhere,” she added. Tewari shot back, “If LOP follows the advise of HM, how come it does not apply to the BJP president and poll panel chief? Different strokes!,” he said. BJP President Rajnath Singh and Gujarat CM Narendra Modi visited the state despite Shinde’s advisory.

Swaraj responded by saying it was she who woke up the government and talked to the home minister about the floods ON June 18. “The truth is that I woke you up about the scale of tragedy when I spoke to home minister on 18th June and tweeted about this,” she tweeted.

“When we enforce accountability, you call it politics. We will not allow you this escape route to hide your failures,” she said. Jaitley said that BJP workers and organisations like the RSS and VHP were helping people in the disaster-hit state.

“They are absolutely wrong. The BJP has been there with other organisations like RSS and VHP...doing a lot of work to help people. The Uttarakhand government failed to respond to the situation,” he said.

Politics over the dead
Congress General Secretary Ajay Maken joined the debate, blaming the BJP for politicising the natural calamity. “Pyre of many victims of this natural calamity still warm. First BJP tried to take credit of evacuating 15,000 in a day!” he said. “In this time of tragedy, opposition leader who has ambitions of being PM, said U’khand govt (sic) should be dismissed, this is sad,” added Congress leader Ambika Soni.