Dehradun: Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi, who is visiting Uttarakhand to survey the expansive relief and rescue operation in the state, flew over epicentre Kedarnath this morning.
He also stopped at a relief camp in Guptakashi and talked to pilgrims who are stranded there.
90,000 people have been evacuated from remote areas of Uttarkahnd after torrential rains pounded the hill state earlier this month; another 6,000 await rescue, but are safe in temporary camps.
Mr Gandhi flew into Uttarakhand on Monday as Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said that VVIPs flying into the state can disturb rescue operations. Today, Mr Shinde said that aerial surveys of the state are not problematic.
"Rahul Gandhi is not going there as a VIP. He is going there as a citizen, as the vice-president of Congress to oversee that the relief materials reach in place. Rahul did not say 'I am a Rambo and I did this and I did that'," Congress spokesperson Renuka Choudhary said.
The 'Rambo' reference is to a recent trip made by Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, who swooped into Uttarakhand along with bureaucrats, and allegedly evacuated 15,000 tourists from his state with chartered helicopters and luxury buses, according to a media report that has not been denied by his office.
The Congress has been smarting from the BJP's allegations that Mr Gandhi did not rush back from a visit abroad when heavy rains pounded Uttarakhand on the night of June 15.
"You do not know what he (Rahul) is doing. What do you want? We should be telling you when does he have his hair cut and such things? Everybody is not like that to publicise all petty things," said Ms Choudhary to reporters on Monday when asked about the BJP's criticism of her party's vice-president.