Friday 24 January 2020

Indian politician mocked after being carried through ankle-deep flood waters

Shivraj Singh Chouhan was visting villagers in the state of Madhya Pradesh YouTube
Shivraj Singh Chouhan was visting villagers in the state of Madhya Pradesh YouTube

Andrew Buncombe

The chief minister of the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh is a man who likes to keep himself smartly turned out.

And like many politicians around the world, he is not averse to the odd photo-opportunity to show off the good work he is doing.

But a visit to flood struck areas in his state backfired hugely for Shivraj Singh Chouhan, after he was photographed in pressed white trousers being carried through the waters by local police officers. Another image showed him finally rolling up his trousers and walking himself, but handing his shoes to an aide to carry. Worse still, the water was barely ankle-high.

The people of India are used to seeing their politicians demand and expect special VVIP treatment, even on visit to rural areas struck by hardship or disaster. But Mr Singh, a member of the country’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), has been roundly mocked on social media for his behaviour.

“Shivraj Singh Chouhan getting cop lifted is that bizarre example of nasty privilege politicians demand in India. Always,” wrote Debarati Majumder.

Dripping with sarcasm, Bhupendra sharma, said: “A humble and down to earth politician inspecting flood affected region. What a sight.”

Some said the images were reminiscent of the worst days of the British Empire and posted images of Raj officials being carried on the backs of Indians.

A senior government official officer defended Mr Chouhan, saying it would have been dangerous for him to wade through the waters himself.

“Nobody knew if the water level would rise suddenly or if the ground below was slippery,” SK Mishra told the AFP.

“There was also the danger of a snake or scorpion bite. He was desperate to meet the flood-affected people and the security guys could not have taken any chance.”

Floods triggered by the annual monsoon rains have claimed hundreds of lives across India. In Madhya Pradesh at least 15 people have died after rivers burst and flooded villages, the Press Trust of India news agency said.

An Indian TV journalist was sacked in 2013 after he filed a report about deadly floods while perched on a survivor’s shoulders.

The reporter claimed the man who carried him while standing in ankle-high water had hoisted him onto his shoulders as a sign of respect.

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