Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar has stirred up a hornet’s nest with his comments – laced with crass humour – ridiculing the acute water scarcity in the State.
Referring to the ongoing hunger strike undertaken by a drought-affected farmer at Mumbai’s Azad Maidan, Pawar said: “He is on fast for the last 55 days. If there is no water in the dam, how can we release it? Should we urinate into it? If there is no water to drink, even urination is not possible.”
The NCP leader, who was addressing a public meeting at an interior village in Indapur tehsil of Pune district Saturday night, went on to poke fun at the power load shedding in the State with his own brand of humour when he said, “I have noticed that more children are being born since the lights go off at night. There is no other work left then.”
Pawar sought apologies for his remarks on Sunday saying his remarks were not aimed at drought-hit people. “I apologise to people if their sentiments were hurt by my remarks,” the Deputy CM said.
Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray and BJP leader Vinod Tawde strongly condemned Pawar’s comments, saying it was a cruel joke on the drought-hit population of the state, to which the Deputy Chief Minister had brought shame.
Bhaiyya Deshmukh, the farmer from drought-affected Solapur district who is on fast at Azad Maidan, said Pawar had hurt sentiments of the state with the comment which was ‘unbecoming’ of the Deputy Chief Minister.
Talking to reporters at Aurangabad, Thackeray said Pawar had mocked the plight of farmers. The drought in the state was not only worse than 1972, but it was caused by the Government’s policies, he said. NCP chief Sharad Pawar highlights his farming background, but his nephew was insulting the farmers, Uddhav said.
Meanwhile, BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar, said “I feel Ajit Pawar has lost his balance. NCP Chief Sharad Pawar should pay attention to this fact. These remarks are utterly irresponsible and an insult to the hapless people affected by drought. This is unacceptable and most undignified.”
Maharashtra is suffering from both power and water problems and both these portfolios have been with Pawar, the BJP leader said.
Javadekar alleged the power crisis is due to corruption and failure to augment power production.
“Ajit is adding insult to injury. The Chief Minister should clarify whether he agrees with what Pawar has said and if he does not agree then he should act against Pawar.
“Pawar should apologise for his remarks,” he said, adding that the Congress-NCP government has been in power for the last 14 years, yet this is the situation on the power and water fronts.
Meanwhile, Union Minister Sharad Pawar has apologised for his nephew Ajit Pawar’s crass and insensitive remarks about Maharashtra’s water and power problems, as the State battles a severe drought.
(With inputs from agencies)