Dehradun: Congress leaders got into fisticuffs with Telugu Desam Party politicians on Wednesday over providing assistance to pilgrims from Andhra Pradesh stranded after floods in Uttarakhand. The leaders of both parties fought each other at the Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun.
Congress and TDP have already been engaged in war of words over relief operations in the rain-ravaged state but it finally came to blows. TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu had called on hospitalised pilgrims from Andhra in Dehradun on Tuesday and had written to Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde over, what he alleges, inadequate arrangements made for their return.
Commenting on the scuffle, Naidu said, "Andhra Pradesh government failed to help those stuck in Uttarakhand. Congress government and Centre is not doing enough for pilgrim." Congress is the ruling government in Andhra Pradesh, while TDP is the main opposition.
"V Hanumantha Rao (of Congress) started abusing me and he used unparliamentary language. We are helping the flood victims. Why is Hanumantha Rao, along with his aides, interfering," senior TDP leader Ramesh Rathod told CNN-IBN. Rathod can be seen in a footage of the airport exchanging blows with Rao.
However, Rao made similar allegations against the TDP leader and said, "TDP people provoked us over boarding pass issue. They are making things political. I ask N Chandrababu Naidu, as a senior leader, why are you doing such politics?," he further told CNN-IBN.
They started squabbling over who will transport Andhra Pradesh pilgrims back to the southern state. Fourteen pilgrims hailing from Andhra Pradesh are believed to have died in Uttarakhand and 430 people are still not accounted for after the rain and landslides battered the hill state over a week ago.
Quoting reports received from collectors of different districts, a release from the State Disaster Management Commissioner's office here today said as many as 2,616 pilgrims from Andhra Pradesh were stranded in Uttarakhand after the natural disaster. Of them, 1,239 pilgrims have returned home, while 933 were reported to be safe though they have not reached their native places.
(With Additional Inputs From PTI)