In July 2017, Gujarat faced one of the worst floods in recent history. As on 1st August 2017, as many as 224 people had died in Gujarat from 1st June 2017 in flood-related deaths. Even as Gujarat was drowning, Congress flew 44 of its MLAs to a resort in Bengaluru, owned by DK Shivakumar, Karnataka Congress MLA. The reason was simple. 3 Rajya Sabha seats in Gujarat were up for elections on 5th August, one of which was the high profile seat of Sonia Gandhi’s close aide and senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel.
Prior to the elections, Congress, which had 57 MLAs in an assembly of 182 seats, was left with 51 MLAs after senior leader Shankersinh Vaghela and five others quit the party. One of the MLAs to quit this day was Balwantsinh Rajput, then Chief Whip of Congress in Assembly. With the strength of the Assembly having fallen, Patel needed 45 votes to stay in the Rajya Sabha. As Gujarat reeled under massive floor fury, Congress felt saving one Rajya Sabha seat was far more important than saving and rescuing people of Gujarat, because of power trumps compassion.
With a week left to voting on 8th August, towards the end of July, Congress flew 44 out of its remaining MLAs to the luxury resort in Karnataka. There, Congress MLAs were bored with the South Indian cuisine and a chef who could prepare Gujarati delicacies was reportedly brought in to keep the MLAs entertained. DK Shivakumar is the same Congress MLA who even hosted Karnataka Congress MLAs after Karnataka elections in May this year at the same resort to avoid defection and poaching prior to the floor test.
During the Gujarat floods when the Congress MLAs vacationed in Bengaluru resort, 255 sorties were flown by Indian Air Force for the rescue/relief operations in Gujarat. Banaskantha area in north Gujarat was one of the worst hits. Four out of nine Assembly seats were held by Congress in Banaskantha. All of these four MLAs were in Karnataka resort. The MLAs of flood-hit areas even had their phones switched off, completely cut off from any communication even as the people in their own constituencies, who voted them, cried for help and rescue from floods.
So today I am glad Congress President Rahul Gandhi’s conscience has been awoken to urge the Prime Minister to declare the devastating Kerala floods as a national disaster, even when he was factually incorrect.
Increasing funds allocated for Kerala relief to Rs.500 Cr is a good step but nowhere near enough. It is critical you declare the floods as a National Disaster. Please do not vacillate as the people of Kerala are suffering. #KeralaFloodRelief https://t.co/AxabEOHftR
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) August 18, 2018
Unfortunately Gujarat wasn’t the only state to reel under the politics of Congress in face of a disaster in recent times. In June-July 2013, over multi-day cloudburst which left about 1,00,000 pilgrims stranded and killed about 5,748 people in Uttarakhand, Congress waited for Rahul Gandhi, who was then the vice president of Congress and pegged as PM candidate for 2014 elections, to return from his trip aboard before flagging off rescue material. Even as the relief material reached Uttarakhand, then a Congress ruled state, the same was held up for want of ‘clearances’ from authorities.
Clearly, lessons learnt from the way Congress vacillated Gujarat just one year back are finally coming handy.