Top Indian politician ridiculed over deadly floods billboard

Chennai (India) (AFP) - A powerful Indian politician was ridiculed on Sunday over her role in deadly floods that have swept through her southern Tamil Nadu state, as frustration mounts over the disaster.

Thousands of residents have been rescued in Tamil Nadu since record rains last week worsened flooding that has claimed nearly 300 lives across the state since November 9.

The international airport in the state capital Chennai reopened on Sunday days after most of the city of more than four million was left underwater, knocking out power and phone networks.

Soldiers and other emergency workers who poured into the state have now switched to rushing food, clean drinking water and medical supplies to hard-hit residents.

But longtime Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa Jayaram faced criticism for attempting to politicise the floods after a billboard appeared of her holding up a baby to save it from the floodwaters.

The billboard, apparently erected by a party legislator in Chennai and depicting a scene from a local blockbuster movie, sparked a storm on social media.

Many took to Twitter to brand Jayalalithaa "shameless" and the poster the "Amma of all self-promotions".

Local media also reported that Jayalalithaa's party workers were holding up relief supplies so they could slap on pictures of the former movie star known as "Amma" or "Mother" by her legions of supporters.

Her party denied the claims, accusing political rivals of spreading rumours to "defame the party and our honourable chief minister".

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's government faced mockery on social media on Friday for tweeting an apparently doctored photo of him surveying the flood-hit state.

The photo showed him looking out the window of a helicopter. The view was barely visible, but what appeared to be the same image was later tweeted sharp and clearly showed flooding.

Anger and frustration is mounting among some residents who accuse local authorities of failing to work swiftly to help those affected.

V. Padmavathy said she had been stuck on the first floor of her home for days after waist-deep water swept through her north Chennai neighbourhood.

"None of the politicians or volunteers have approached us for the past couple of days. Many of us stayed indoors and starved," the mother of two told AFP.