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 last 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."
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.