Mr Ajit Pawar, don’t urinate, provide water

Although Ajit Pawar has regretted his urine remark as the biggest mistake of his life, with NCP chief Sharad Pawar also apologising for his nephew’s crass and insensitive remark, the former should not be pardoned for making fun of a politically serious issue.

Ajit Pawar has in a way insulted hundreds and thousands of ordinary men and farmers, who are struggling for even a single drop of water for their household needs. He must be aware that acute water shortage has completely destroyed agriculture in the state forcing hundreds of farmers to commit suicide.

Needless to say water is precious and life cannot sustain without it. Instead of making adequate arrangements in water-starved areas, Ajit Pawar, a people’s representative, insulted them by asking whether he should urinate to fill up dry dams.

What Ajit Pawar has said is not surprising at all considering the kind of objectionable, distasteful and insensitive remarks which a select brand of politicians from Maharashtra and other states keep making every now and then.

It might seem to us that the politicians in India have stooped to such levels but, ironically for them, a slip of tongue is just a normal thing and they feel an apology can easily wash away all their sins.

It is indeed painful that when a lot of noise is being made over the unwarranted wastage of millions of gallons of water in IPL matches in Maharashtra, which is facing its worst drought in the recent times, state’s Deputy Chief Minister poked fun at the situation.

And this is not the first time that Sharad Pawar’s ambitious nephew has lost control over his blabbering tongue. Two years back in 2011, Ajit Pawar invited trouble by accusing media of broadcasting fabricated news and that it needs to be gagged. Interestingly, then also he was the Deputy CM and was rescued by his uncle, who came to his defence this time too.

Ajit Pawar probably did not learn any lesson when the media boycotted him for sometime till he came into the spotlight again. His political ambitions are known to everyone and he has often presented himself as the real heir to his uncle’s political legacy but he ought to learn something from him - the art of public speaking and how to take criticism.

It is not that Sharad Pawar has not committed mistakes. As a CM, he too lost his cool when he compared the late Mrinal Gore, then the Leader of Opposition in Maharashtra Assembly, to Putna – a demoness and a mythological character in epic Mahabharata.

But since that slip of tongue, the veteran politician learnt how to tolerate, and if it was not possible to do so then just ignore the media, for he understood the importance of the fourth estate in a democracy and knew that uncontrolled utterances could worsen things.

But why only hold the Pawars responsible for making such distasteful remarks; Maharashtra has always had leaders who liked spewing venom all in the name of being humorous.

Not to forget former chief minister Babasaheb Bhosle, who was always careful with words on record but did not mind opening his mouth against his political opponents off the camera. Then there was the late Bal Thackeray, the cartoonist-turned politician, who took pleasure in displaying his oratory skills and attacking his rivals with double entendres to connect with his audiences.

The late Shiv Sena founder, who was more candid and direct in his approach towards issues and even dared his contemporaries with his provocative speeches, never went overboard on sensitive matters.

This time, however, Sharad Pawar’s nephew has gone too far. While poking fun at a poor farmer who has been agitating for over 55 days at Indapur, Ajit Pawar probably did not realize that he was under the watchful eyes of media. That he was making a public speech, which was being recorded and aired on TV channels. And when the criticism followed and Opposition made demands for his ouster, he had no option but to regret. But the bigger question is - will he be let off the hook so easily? Why did his uncle, a grass-root leader himself, not reprimand him and sent him packing.

Had there been any other leader in Ajit Pawar’s place, he would have been sacked for making such crass remarks. And for those who don’t know, let me tell them that the NCP leader had followed it up with another remark poking fun at load-shedding in the state, saying, "I have noticed that more children are being born since the lights go off at night as there is no other work left."

And the worst part is that, the controversy comes to light amidst reports that as Maharashtra’s Water Resources Minister, Ajit Pawar had diverted nearly 2,000 million cusec water to industries. As per the RTI reply, between 40 to 80% of water of 51 dams was diverted to industries on the recommendations of a high-powered committee headed by Ajit Pawar between 2003 and 2011.

The rampant diversion badly hit Maharashtra`s irrigation potential which led to one of the worst droughts in the state`s history and the state`s irrigation potential was reduced by about 4 lakh hectares.

Water was diverted without taking into confidence the affected people, as is mandated by a state government act. Pawar`s decision also flouted the Centre`s water policy, which gave priority to irrigation over industry.

Tragically all this happened in a state, which has the largest network of dams in the country for water storage and irrigational needs. As expected, the Opposition, waiting for an opportunity to hit back, has used Ajit Pawar’s loose talk to the hilt.

However hard the ageing chief of the NCP may try, Sharad Pawar clearly knows that a great damage has been done. Next year, when the NCP goes to the voters to seek their votes it will have to face uncomfortable questions and justify why people should support the party if its own leader is insensitive towards the most pressing issues of their times.

NCP should probably have an answer ready as to how will it tackle the drought situation in Maharashtra rather than suggesting urine as the solution to parched throats and even drier land.