Union minister Kiren Rijiju on Wednesday asked Congress president Rahul Gandhi not to do politics over the "tragedy" of 15 labourers trapped in a Meghalaya coal mine, saying the Centre has been helping the state government in its rescue efforts.
Rijiju also blamed the previous Congress government in Meghalaya for the "unsafe illegal minining activities" in the state.
The Union minister of state's response came after Gandhi attacked Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying 15 labourers trapped the a mine since December 13 struggled for air while he strutted about on Assam's Bogibeel Bridge posing for cameras.
"No politics on tragedy please @RahulGandhi ji. We have been helping the State Govt with all possible means. But the unsafe illegal minining activities were due to the negligence of the previous Congress govt (sic)," Rijiju tweeted.
The Congress president's attack came a day after the Modi inaugurated the country's longest rail-cum-road bridge over the Brahmaputra river at Bogibeel near Dibrugarh in Meghalaya's neighbouring state Assam.
After greeting people, standing on the foothold of his vehicle, Modi got off the car and walked a few metres on the bridge along with Assam Governor Jagdish Mukhi and Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal.
Gandhi appealed to the prime minister to save the miners, who were trapped in the coal mine a fortnight ago. Search operations have been suspended by the Meghalaya government for want of high-powered pumps to flush out water from the pit.