Unlike Modi, Nitish, Mamata gives a skip to aerial survey, wades through floodwaters in WB
Kolkata, August 22: Call it her way of showing her empathy towards the flood victims or a "smart move" to score a few political brownie points, on Monday images of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee wading through ankle-deep water while inspecting flood-hit Malda district definitely attracted several eyeballs.
All these days, as states after states have been inundated by floodwaters, we saw politicians right from Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Bihar CM Nitish Kumar to Rajasthan CM Vasundhara Raje Scindia, conducting aerial survey to take stock of flood situation in Gujarat, Bihar and Rajasthan respectively.
While victims of floods struggle to survive, the widely-circulated images of politicians sitting comfortably inside a chopper hovering over floodwaters are being criticised as "luxurious and crude" attempts to understand the plight of people.
Nonetheless, if a politician of Modi's reputation skips an aerial survey of Assam, then there are also demands for a one to be immediately conducted as he had flown over the floodwaters of Gujarat.
Politics over floods and aerial survey is nothing new, but this year we will see more of it as more than a 1,000 people had already died due to floods in Assam, Gujarat, Rajasthan, West Bengal and Odisha to name a few states, where floods have created havoc since June.
On Monday, while Mamata was on a recce to flood-affected areas in three north Bengal districts amid growing protests by flood victims for ignoring their plight by the state, the CM did an impromptu attempt to gauge the ferocity of floodwaters by standing on ankle-deep water.
If her supporters are calling it a noble gesture by the firebrand leader to reach out to the victims by being in their shoes for a few minutes, opposition leaders have lambasted her for what they call it nothing, but photo-op.
At least 152 people have died and 1.5 crore hit by the floods in the state till now. The CM demanded a central government package for her flood-hit state, on the lines of the grants given to Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled Assam and Gujarat.
"The Centre has given a package of Rs 2,000 crore to flood-hit Assam, also a package has been given to Gujarat. I have no objection. I want all states to get central help. But fury of the floods is no less in Bengal than in Gujarat and Assam.
"We will also send a detailed report. We want we be given whatever is our due," she said in Malda.
Mamata alleged that she had earlier written to Modi a multiple times on the issue of the Ganga river erosion in parts of the state, but the Central government did not act.
Hitting out at the Centre, she said it should undertake proper dredging of barrages.
"But there was no proper dredging of the Farakka barrage, same with the Damodar Valley Corporation barrages," she said.
Mamata went on alleging that the fresh wave of floods in the northern Bengal was caused after an embankment in Bihar's Purnea district was "broken". The state government has lodged an official complaint.
"In Purnea, an embankment was broken. I didn't know about this. One district magistrate told me. We have lodged an official complaint," she said.