New Delhi : Political leaders have praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to visit Jammu and Kashmir on October 23, to celebrate Diwali with flood-hit victims.

 Hundreds of people were killed and tens of thousands left homeless after extensive flooding in Kashmir last month.

Biju Janata Dal (BJD) leader Jay Panda, said, “I think the Prime Minister’s decision to spend Diwali with the people of Jammu and Kashmir is a very good sign and it sends the right message that the highest level of government is standing with our Indian citizens in Jammu and Kashmir.”

Bharatiya Janata Party’s Subramanian Swamy said instead of going to his home state in western Gujarat, Prime Minister Modi had decided to celebrate Diwali with people of Kashmir.

“He is going at a time when he should be celebrating in Delhi or in Ahmedabad, he has decided to go and be with those poor suffering people in Kashmir,” said Swamy.

The Prime Minister had announced Rs 11 billion in disaster relief payments, as well as compensation to victims and their relatives.

National Panthers Party chief Bhim Singh, however said that Prime Minister Modi’s move was to grab confidence of voters for upcoming state elections.

“Everybody is happy to see Modi in Srinagar but this is not Jammu and Kashmir and people have been affected by floods all over the state, in Srinagar, in Pulvama, in Anantnag and mainly the flood sufferers of Udhampur district and in Rajouri and Poonch. I wish Modi would have visited all the areas or the affected people. I know the purpose is not to express sympathy with the people, purpose is to give some bonanza for the coming polls, for the coming elections in the state,” said Singh.

More than 75,000 people were stuck in partly submerged homes in Srinagar, where roads had transformed into stagnant canals strewn with wreckage, trash and dead animals.

Authorities say the cost of damage in Jammu and Kashmir may run into billions of dollars.

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