AHMEDABAD: Narendra Modi's spin doctors came in for some harsh criticism on Sunday for giving out an impression that the Gujarat chief minster had transformed into Rambo and helped rescue 15,000 Gujarati pilgrims stranded in the Uttarakhand floods. Experts said it was practically impossible to move 15,000 people in a short span of time even by the armed forces, whose personnel are trained for such massive tasks. The government's own records showed that of the 2,000-odd people who have returned to Gujarat till Saturday, about 1,200 had used arrangements made by the state government. The 400-plus pilgrims that reached Ahmedabad railway station on Sunday morning had made their own arrangements to return home.
Union I&B minister Manish Tewari on Sunday said Modi's claims reflected "rank opportunism" to try and milk a tragedy for political reasons. All the elements of national power put together had on Saturday evacuated 10,000 people and in all the government had been successful in evacuating 17,000 people, he said.
"Now in all this, if somebody wants to become Rambo and claims that he alone in a span of two days during a trip of disaster tourism brought out 15,000 people, I am afraid for the lack of a better word, it just reflects rank opportunism and sheer desperation to try and politicize and even milk a tragedy for political reasons," he said.
The first flight of Gujarati pilgrims came on Saturday with 134 people. Flying in 15,000 people in 36 hours would have needed at least 115 flights, but theses many aircraft have not landed at the Ahmedabad airport.
"Does Modi have his own private army that he managed to bring back 15,000 pilgrims in two days," asked Congress leader Shaktisinh Gohil. "Almost all states have helped Uttarakhand in this crisis and none of them have tried to get cheap publicity like this. Modi should also explain why he has offered just Rs 2 crore as aid to the flood-hit state when even Bimaru states like Bihar have offered Rs 5 crore."
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