State BJP President K Annamalai expressed disapproval of Stalin’s Delhi visit, stating that the Chief Minister appears more focused on political engagements than addressing the dire situation in the flood-affected areas. The BJP claimed to have arranged army helicopters for rescue operations and criticized the Dravidian Model DMK government’s handling of the flood crisis.
Meanwhile, organizations such as RSS, Seva Bharati, Hindu Munnani, VHP, and BJP cadres have actively engaged in flood relief operations, providing essential supplies and participating in rescue efforts. The collective efforts of these groups have garnered praise for their swift response to the crisis.
In response to the floods, the Navy, Air Force, Army, and NDRF have been working tirelessly to assist, airlift, and rescue affected individuals. The severe weather conditions have resulted in three casualties, and around 7,500 people have been relocated to relief centers as a precautionary measure.
The southern districts, particularly Thoothukudi, Tirunelveli, Kanyakumari, and Tenkasi, have experienced neck-deep waters due to the relentless rainfall. Notably, Kayalpattinam in Thoothukudi recorded an extraordinary 95 cm of rainfall in just one day, submerging the area completely. Rail services have been severely impacted, leaving nearly 800 passengers stranded at railway stations for over 24 hours.
With major reservoirs in Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari reaching capacity, there is a heightened risk of further flooding. Union Finance Minister Nirmala Seetharaman has requested additional NDRF support, including boats and helicopters, from Union Home Minister Amit Shah to enhance rescue and relief efforts.
The Indian Air Force has deployed helicopters for Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) missions in Tamil Nadu. A recent tweet from Defence PRO Nagpur highlighted a successful rescue mission that included four passengers, including a pregnant woman and a 1.5-year-old baby, airlifted to safety and taken to a hospital in Madurai.
IAF helicopters are deployed for HADR missions in #TamilNadu due to unprecedented rains in last 24 hrs.
— PRO Nagpur, Ministry of Defence (@PRODefNgp) December 19, 2023
State BJP President K Annamalai launched a scathing attack on the Chief Minister, drawing parallels to the historical phrase “Nero played a fiddle while Rome burnt.” Annamalai criticised Stalin for attending a political meeting in Delhi while flood-affected regions awaited urgent assistance.
In a social media post, Annamalai compared Stalin’s actions to the historical analogy, stating, “While Thiru @mkstalin is in Delhi, he also decides to seek an appointment with our Hon PM, a last-minute cover created to divert people from his real agenda of travel.” He further highlighted the presence of Stalin’s son, deputed to monitor flood relief with film director Mari Selvaraj, drawing parallels to a past incident in Maharashtra during 26/11.
The public’s frustration with the perceived lack of prompt relief from the state government adds complexity to the ongoing flood crisis. As criticisms mounts, the focus shifts towards ensuring efficient and timely assistance for the affected populace in southern Tamil Nadu.
The CM of TN, who is expected to monitor and be on the ground to facilitate relief for the people affected by flood in the Southern districts of TN, is busy attending I.N.D.I. Alliance meeting in Delhi.
The famous saying “Nero played a Fiddle while Rome burnt” comes to life with…
— K.Annamalai (@annamalai_k) December 19, 2023
As the flood-affected people in southern TN await relief, the absence of focused efforts from the DMK government has raised concerns and criticisms. It is learnt that Stalin, who is in Delhi, will meet the PM today before leaving for Thoothukudi which is being represented in Lok Sabha by his sister Kanimozhi. It has considerable chunk of Christian votes. IMD forecasts more moderate to heavy rains in these districts for another two days.
CM Stalin has written a letter union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh to deploy more helicopters.
I request Honourable @rajnathsingh to urgently deploy more helicopters for rescue and relief in Tamil Nadu's southern districts, severely affected by unprecedented rainfall. pic.twitter.com/aBTUgLTYQQ
— M.K.Stalin (@mkstalin) December 19, 2023
the distribution of financial assistance through fair price shops by DMK party cadres has stirred controversy. Tokens to receive a Rs.6000 assistance package, provided by the Centre, were being distributed with the visible influence of party members.
Reports from various locations indicated that the distribution process involved long queues, with party cadres playing a role in overseeing the distribution of funds. In a move that drew criticism, the assistance covers and tokens prominently featured images of Chief Minister M K Stalin. Both the covers and tokens were adorned with the DMK government sticker, raising questions about the politicisation of the relief efforts.
Despite the assistance being a part of the central government’s relief package, the state government’s involvement was highlighted through the prominent display of Chief Minister Stalin’s image. The financial aid, originally Rs 6000, was reduced to Rs.600 when provided by the State government.
The handling of the relief distribution by the DMK government faced severe backlash, with residents expressing their frustration and disappointment. Criticisms focused on the perceived interference of party cadres, the use of government funds for political promotion, and the reduction in the amount distributed.
Public anger was evident as some residents reportedly returned bread and milk packets distributed by the government, expressing their dissatisfaction with the relief efforts. The controversy has fueled sentiments against Chief Minister Stalin, with some residents vowing not to support him in future elections.
As the flood crisis continues to unfold, the collective response from various organisations and government agencies underscores the collaborative efforts required to address the immediate challenges faced by the affected regions. The political criticism directed at Chief Minister Stalin’s absence during this crucial time amplifies the urgency for coordinated disaster response measures.