Shivraj Singh Chouhan, chief minister of Madhya Pradesh state, was shown wearing crisp white trousers and white shoes and being carried aloft through the water in a field, trailed by his entourage.
Panna: Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan visits flood affected areas in the state. pic.twitter.com/Q4HcBuEyOJ
— ANI (@ANI_news) August 21, 2016
The photo of a smiling Chouhan with his arms wrapped around the two officers made newspaper front pages and sparked an outpouring of ridicule on Twitter. Most comments were light-hearted. In India, politicians are almost always flanked by a legion of fawning officials and security guards.
Not only has he outsourced his walking but he has outsourced his life jacket too.#shivraj
— Maanvir Singh Minhas (@MaanvirMinhas) August 21, 2016
— Sunder Chand (@NBTsunderchand) August 21, 2016
— Hiren Antani (@HirenAntaniNGS) August 21, 2016
But Chouhan was also accused of abusing his position, with comparisons drawn to the treatment of British officials during colonial times.
Government officials were quoted as blaming overzealous minders for the incident. Another said Chouhan hurt his foot and there was also concern about snakes in the water.
Chouhan himself posted several pictures of his flood visit on Twittter but skipped the controversial one, while his office denied on Monday releasing the image.
Floods triggered by 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.