A senior Indian politician has been mocked after he was photographed being carried by policemen across ankle-deep floodwater.
Shivraj Singh Chouhan, chief minister of central Madhya Pradesh state, was supposed to be inspecting the devastation caused by flooding in eastern India, which has killed 40 people and displaced thousands.
But he became a laughing stock on social media after a photograph emerged which showed him being lifted across some muddy water by a pair of burly policemen, as an entourage followed close behind.
“Shivraj adheres to great Indian political tradition (of being cosseted),” Hiren Antani wrote on Twitter, whilst another user joked: “Shivraj training Indian athletes for 400m relay in 2020 Olympics”.
“[It is like] when you need to do an aerial survey, but are short of funds (and end up being carried instead)” said a third observer.
Chouhan’s brief ride on Policemen was brief but has already drawn strong criticism from his political rivals.
“When people are dying from flooding, Chouhan was concerned about his shoes,” said Congress Party leader Arun Yadav.
A spokesman for Mr Chouhan defended the move, saying it would have been dangerous for him to wade through the water.
“Nobody knew if the water level would rise suddenly or if the ground below was slippery,” said S K Mishra.
There were also concerns Mr Chouhan could have been bitten by a snake or scorpion bite, he added.
The incident has dragged India’s so-called “VIP culture” back into the spotlight amid criticism that politicians in India receive too much pampering.
Politicians already enjoy ease of travel around the capital of New Delhi, as police frequently block traffic to allow ministerial cars to pass through safely.
These blockades have been blamed on a number of deaths in India. In 2010, an eight-year old boy and a 48-year old businessman allegedly died in northern India because their ambulances were stuck in a traffic jam caused by the Prime Minister’s motorcade.