Unhappy over the Uttarakhand government’s performance in response to the disaster that struck almost a fortnight ago, the Congress leadership has decided to carry out strict monitoring of relief and rehabilitation work in the flood-ravaged state.
The Congress government and especially chief minister Vijay Bahuguna had been at the centre of criticism for shoddy rescue work. With complaints of delayed response and inadequate relief measures mounting, the party leadership decided to step in. Party general secretary in-charge of Uttarakhand affairs Ambika Soni rushed to the state for an on-the-spot assessment of the situation.
The All India Congress Committee (AICC) has already set up a control room at Dehradun to monitor and accelerate relief work. Sources said Congress president Sonia Gandhi would be personally monitoring relief and rehabilitation measures. In her meetings with party leaders, including members of Parliament and assembly, Soni is learnt to have expressed displeasure with way the Bahuguna government and the state unit were handling the disaster relief operations.
“Relief and rehabilitation requires assessment as well as strict monitoring. We will also ensure that the money donated for relief work does not go waste,” a senior leader said.
Ever since winning the state from the BJP by a slender margin in 2012, the Congress party’s credibility has been dented by severe infighting. Bahuguna’s tenure has been marred by perpetual dissidence with legislators, particularly those belonging to Union minister Harish Rawat’s camp, frequently revolting against him. The dissent grew after his son, Saket, who is now out of the country, lost the Lok Sabha by-election from Tehri to BJP’s Mala Rajyalakshmi Shah in October 2012, a defeat that came as a shocker for the ruling Congress.
The central leadership has also asked state leaders to observe restraint and not make “reckless” statements. The warning comes in the wake of speaker Gobind Singh Kunjwal’s alarming statement on Saturday that the number of dead in the deluge could cross the 10,000 mark, which contradicted Bahuguna and Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde’s estimates.