Pune: In what can be said to be an insensitive and bizarre comment, the Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister derided a two-month-long protest by a farmer who was demanding release of water for his dry field, asking that should people urinate in dams to fill it.
In a statement that created an uproar in the political circles, the NCP leader, while addressing a rally at an interior village in Indapur tehsil of Pune district on Saturday night said, “A person from Solapur is sitting on hunger strike for 55 days. He is asking to release water from dams to his field. There is no water in dams. What should we do? Should we urinate in the dams? There is no water to drink. So we cannot even urinate.”
Bhaiyya Deshmukh is the farmer from drought-affected Solapur district who is on fast at Azad Maidan in Mumbai.
In fact the Deputy Chief Minister did not stop there. Going further, he made another comment, which would make many cringe, on the shortage of electricity supply. “I have come to know that the population is increasing in the state since there is a shortage of electricity in Maharashtra. What other work people have when the lights are off,” he said.
For good measure he also added, “You must be thinking that I have taken (alcohol) in the day itself.” Equally shocking was the fact that the crowd present there lapped it up.
Maharashtra is reeling under severe draught at the moment. Districts like Solapur, Ahmednagar, Sangli, Pune, Satara, Beed, Nashik, Buldhana, Latur, Osmanabad, Nanded, Aurangabad and others are badly affected by draught and many farmers have committed suicide in these districts due to hardship.
Meanwhile, the Shiv Sena and the BJP has slammed the NCP leader for his weird and highly insensate comments.
“Ajit Pawar is a hopeless person. He should not be part of the state cabinet,” said Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray.
“This is an utterly irresponsible statement and an insult to the hapless people affected by drought. This is absolutely unacceptable and is like adding insult to injury. One wonders if he has lost balance,” said BJP leader Prakash Javadekar.
Predictably, his party defended Ajit Pawar. Jitendra Ahwad, an NCP MLA said, “I think it was an informal way of addressing the crowd there. The whole thing has been blown out of proportion. His speech showed concern.”
Following the uproar the Deputy Chief Minister was forced to apologise for his comments. Releasing a statement on Sunday Ajit Pawar said that he was sorry for hurting the sentiments of people with his comments. “My comments were not aimed at those affected by draught,” he said.