Politicians can be highly insensitive and bizarre at times and how. NCP leader and Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar is the latest to join the bandwagon of such leaders. Anyone’s first reaction on hearing Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar’s nephew talk about dry dams and asking those present at a rally in Pune district if people should fill them with urine if there was no water would have been – what was this man thinking - has he completely lost it?
It amazes one to think as to how Ajit Pawar could deride a poor farmer who has been protesting at Mumbai’s Azad Maidan to get water for his fields from dams. Ajit Pawar’s comments were in reference to Bhaiyya Deshmukh, the farmer from drought-affected Solapur district who is on fast in Mumbai for almost two months now.
What was worse that Mr Junior Pawar did not stop there. Continuing in the same vein, he went ahead and made a cheap joke at how the population of Maharashtra was increasing because of shortage of electricity. And if that was not enough he asked the crowd that they must be thinking that he had had liquor during daytime itself.
The government of the day does not give water to the aam janta; it also does not give electricity forcing them to live in dark and then rubs salt on their wounds by laughing at their misery. Watching the video of Ajit Pawar’s sound bytes made one cringe, especially when he laughs after making these comments. Maybe he thinks that he has a great sense of humour. Only if Mr Pawar were to live the lives of the poor farmers for a day, he could have become humble for the rest of his life.
One wonders whether Ajit Pawar has forgotten that he is the Deputy CM of the state which is reeling under severe draught. Farmers are committing suicide because their fields are dry and they are unable to pay loans. They are committing suicide because they are unable to take care of their family and cannot bear to see them starve. In such a scenario is it not downright cruel when those who represent the electorate and are expected to solve their problems mock at their misery and laugh at their helplessness.
Yes, one can accept the fact that the government of the day may be trying its best to do what it has to do for the people but its hands may be tied due to certain reasons. In such a situation the leaders of the day should seek forgiveness for not doing enough for them and not insult those who are looking at politicians as saviours.
Ajit Pawar did apologise later and say that the tasteless comments were the biggest mistake of his life. In fact he said sorry repeatedly – he first issued a statement and then apologized in the Maharashtra Assembly. But the question is – is an apology enough? The Opposition has been gunning for his head asking that he should resign. Maybe they have a point. Not to say that every time a politician makes a mistake he must resign but when you make a mistake of scorning those who have given you power then you must go. Narayane Rane had to go for his comments after the 26/11 when he had said that some state politicians had given assistance to terrorists prior to the Mumbai attacks.
Ajit Pawar’s uncle, Sharad Pawar too apologized on behalf of his nephew saying that the crass comments were ‘unwanted’. However, instead of saying sorry on his nephew’s behalf, senior Pawar should instill the art of speaking in public to the junior member of the family. It would augur well for both of them, and then the Union Agriculture Minister would not have to go for damage control every time Ajit Pawar puts his foot in his mouth. Remember two years ago, Sharad Pawar had said that he did not mind offering an apology on behalf of Ajit Pawar who had then said that the media should be gagged for false and fabricated news.
Well, how Ajit Pawar must have wished that the media be gagged and banned and he was not living in a democracy but in a dictatorship where the fourth estate did not broadcast and report the unbecoming comments that he makes. On the contrary, I feel that such politicians be gagged and banned and I am sure many would agree with me.
Ajit Pawar should realise that the times have changed and that he is living in an era where the power of media is all encompassing and far reaching.
This is not the first time that the NCP leader has been embroiled in controversy. He had resigned as Deputy CM from the Democratic Front government in September last year after being accused of irrigation scam when he had held the portfolio from 2004 to 2009. However, in what many thought to be a cover up, he was brought back after he was given a clean chit by a White Paper by the Maharashtra government. And what does he do after coming back – instead of solving problems of those who voted for him, he pokes fun at their sad state.
Post Script: Political leaders cutting across party lines have slammed Ajit Pawar. Reactions have been many and varied. But one comment caught my attention – that by MNS chief Raj Thackeray. He said that next year in the Assembly elections Ajit Pawar would be ‘pissed upon’ when he goes to the people to ask for votes. Well, it seems that for a change, one hopes that Raj has got it bang on.