From Saroj Sharma
It´s raining politics in Gujarat these days. For a state suffering a double whammy first in the form of near drought to unprecedented floods, all within the span of one month, what it is getting from the UPA-led government at the Centre is not sympathy or relief, but a large dose of political apathy.
That the fiery Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is an eye-sore for the UPA'sItalian-born Chairperson Sonia Gandhi is no secret. But what has come as a shock to the state machinery is the fact that the vindictive lady is letting her dislike show through blatant disregard for the suffering of the state as a whole. Unlike 2002, when Smt Sonia Gandhi was desperate to rush into the state in the aftermath of the Godhra carnage to assuage the ?hurt sentiments? of the state'sMuslim minority, the lady is seemingly unmoved by the plight of the state'scitizens which incidentally includes her loved minorities as well this time round.
What they are conveniently not publicising is the fact that it is the Modi government which has been in touch with PM Manmohan Singh for almost over a month now,first when there was a threat of drought in the state and now since the unprecedented rains and floods, which the state has been witnessing over the past fortnight.
Clearly, the UPA-led alliance wants to derive mileage from this natural calamity as well by heaping the blame for it on the doorsteps of the BJP state government. ?They?re hoping to palm off the blame for the natural disaster too on Chief Minister Modi who is already in the dock for the 2002 riots though repeated attempts by the Congress have thus far not been able to nail him for any substantiated charge,? says a BJP state party worker. ?They just want to spread the message that Modiji is responsible for every-thing which goes wrong in Gujarat.? What they are conven-iently not publicising is the fact that it is the Modi gover-nment wh-ich has been in touch with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for almost over a month now first when there was a threat of drought in the state and now since the unprecedented rains and floods which the state has been witnessing over the past fortnight. In fact, CM Modi had himself sought central assistance to the tune of Rs 2,500 crore from the Centre when the spectre of drought loomed large. And of late, the CM has kept the PM abreast of the latest on the flood situation as well indicating that the state has lost over Rs 3,000 crore on account of the destruction of infrastructure, highways, power plants and crop losses. But rather than rushing in to Gujarat'sassistance as he did in the case of Assam last month when it was reeling under floods, PM Manmohan Singh has yet not found either the time or inclination to visit the state. And unlike in the case of Bihar, where the Lalu-Rabri combine had a Rs 1,000 crore relief package given to them as a support-rendering gift from the grateful Centre, no such goodies are forthcoming in the case of the Modi-led Gujarat. To be fair to the helpless PM, ignoring Gujarat may not be his personal decision but a diktat from the Super PM. And while Madam Gandhi has found time to rush around putting balm on the burns of school children in Tamil Nadu and surveying floods in neighbouring Congress-led Mahara-shtra, the busy lady just does not seem to be finding time to visit Gujarat, Daman and Silvassa which are witnessing unprecedented rains and flooding, the likes of which haven'tbeen witnessed in the past 40 years. Instead, she chose to cancel a scheduled visit to the state on August 12. Strangely, even Congress party workers are confused about the actual reason for calling off the visit. While some are claiming that the trip has been cancelled on account of ?heavy rains?, others are claiming its because ?the situation is returning to normal.? Only Smt Gandhi can best reveal the real reason for the cancellation of the trip and a chance to play Mother Bountiful in yet another state by doling out assistance from the Prime Minister'sRelief Fund.
But the real sufferers in this game of politics is the people of Gujarat who are reeling under losses heaped upon them by nature'sfury yet again. After the Kandla cyclone and the 2001 Bhuj earthquake, this year Gujarat'seconomy has taken a severe beating on account of the floods. Damage to the states; roads alone are being pegged at Rs 200 crore while damage to power plants has exceeded Rs 100 crore. But rather than alleviating the state'swoes, the Congress is blaming the Modi government for absurd reasons ranging from not taking adequate disaster planning measures to not seeking formal financial assistance from the Centre by sending a detailed memorandum on losses. Obviously, the Congress will learn its lesson only when voters from the state turn them out for turning their backs on them during a crisis. Hell hath no fury like a populace scorned.