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Declare Uttarakhand tragedy a national calamity: BJP

June 22, 2013 23:51 IST

The Bharatiya Janata Party has asked the central government to declare the Uttarakhand flood tragedy as a national calamity or at least as "rarest of the rare" calamity.

It rejected the government's contention that there are no provisions to declare tragedies as a national calamity.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of BJP's drive to mobilise funds for flood victims, party General Secretary M Venkaiah Naidu said, "The state alone cannot face the situation" and Central and state governments could join hands and take up relief, rescue and rehabilitation works.

Naidu said he has requested the Rajya Sabha Chairman and Lok Sabha Speaker to relax MPLADS norms so that MPs could contribute towards rehabilitation work in Uttarakhand.

He said BJP has decided to ask its MPs, MLAs, MLCs and also other elected representatives to contribute their one month's salary towards rehabilitation work in Uttarakhand.

Naidu took exception to Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde questioning the visit to Uttarakhand by VVIPs, including Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, as it would hamper relief and rescue operations.

He said no one should have objections to "anybody who wants to extend solidarity to the affected people." "When the Home Minister can go there why shouldn't the Chief Minister (Modi) go there?"

"Not only people from Uttarakhand, but also from different states like Gujarat, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Bihar are affected and stranded. Therefore, if someone wants to extend solidarity with the affected people, nobody should object," he said.

Naidu said he did not want to join issue with Shinde as it was not appropriate for any political party to create a controversy at the time of the crisis.

He said BJP leader L K Advani had spoken to Shinde about the missing 20 sadhus belonging to Shivagiri Mutt of Kerala, who had been to a pilgrimage in Uttarakhand. "I have also spoken to the Home Minister because I happen to be the chairman of the standing committee of home affairs."

BJP also urged the Centre to announce Rs 5 lakh ex-gratia to the bereaved families. 

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