In Assam, the then Prime Minister Mrs Indira Gandhi was in Nellie within hours of the authorities informing her of the massacres. She was hugging survivors to her bosom and promising them succour and support, issuing stern instructions to state authorities to take action. In Mumbai, even the aging and doddering prime minister PV Naraimha Rao hit the streets talking about identifying the brains that caused the bloodshed apart from punishing the hands that executed the task.
In Latur in 1993, then chief minister Sharad Pawar slept in a bullock cart all night to be close at hand to boost the morale of his officers pressed into earthquake relief. In Tamil Nadu in 2004, prime minister Manmohan Singh had pulled the best bureaucrats out of retirement and pressed them to bring relief to the people after the tsunami, reporting to a special cell in his office. This is the kind of Indian government I reported on over the years, even if tottering in parts, every leader and every bureaucrat fiercely determined to lessen the pain of the people.
It is only now that I find the current dispensation abdicating its responsibility and missing in action. Neither the chief ministers of Uttar Pradesh or Bihar, nor the prime minister or the home minister of the nation have been seen anywhere near hospitals or the shores of the Ganga and Yamuna as bodies washed up on land.