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India: Sharad Pawar apologises for nephew’s remarks

Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister mocked drought-hit farmer on hunger strike

  • By Pamela Raghunath, Correspondent
  • Published: 14:46 April 8, 2013
  • Gulf News

Mumbai: Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar on Monday apologised for the insensitive remarks made by his nephew and Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar regarding drought-hit farmers. However, the apology is unlikely to detract from the huge controversy the remarks have stirred up across the state.

“I duly apologise on behalf of the Deputy CM of Maharashtra for the unwanted comment that he has made,” the senior Pawar said on Twitter even as Ajit Pawar tendered profuse apologies in a statement and in the Legislative Council on Monday.

At a public meeting in Indapur near Pune on Saturday, he ridiculed Bhaiiya Deshmukh, a farmer from drought-hit Solapur who has been on hunger strike at Mumbai’s Azad Maidan demanding more water for villages near Ujani Dam — the water for which is reported to be diverted to Sharad Pawar’s Dynamix Dairy.

“Who is that Bhaisaheb Deshmukh? What is the point of his protest? Will it yield water? 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,” he had said.

Another coarse comment was on the electricity cuts in many parts of the state — he said he had been observing more children were being born in the state since the lights went off at night. “There is no other work left then.”

‘Shameful’

Known for his brashness, the nephew’s shocking remarks have got the opposition parties baying for his resignation and calling them “shameful and objectionable” and an insult to drought-hit people. In a statement on Sunday, Ajit Pawar said his remarks had hurt the sentiments of the people of the state.

“My statements in Indapur were not related to the severe drought in the state, but since it has caused pain to the people, I humbly apologise for the same.”

But Kishore Tiwari, a farmers’ representative from the drought-hit and suicide-prone Vidarbha region demanded his “dismissal.” Speaking to Gulf News via telephone from Nagpur, he said: “Ajit Pawar should not only be sacked but sent to a mental asylum. This is the man who created the irrigation and water crisis in the state and now he’s rubbing salt on the farmers’ wounds. His remarks only reflect his attitude and non-sensitivity towards farmers.”

The Aam Aadmi Party said: “His [Ajit Pawar] statements show his true face — a corrupt politician who has no empathy for the citizens and to have such a man in a leadership role is a disaster for the state. What is even more shocking is that his statements were met with resonating laughter from the NCP spectators.”

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