MUMBAI: Maharashtra rural development minister Pankaja Munde has got embroiled in a controversy after a member of her staff was seen carrying her slippers during her recent tour of drought-affected regions in the state.
Opposition Congress took the opportunity to take a swipe at Munde, saying it showed her "high-handed attitude".
Munde, however, defended herself saying that the man was in her personal employment and not a government servant.
During her visit to Sonpeth in Parbhani district, Munde took her chappals (slippers) off seeing a muddy road ahead.
While she walked bare-feet, a man picked up her chappals which the newschannels showed.
"The media sees that I removed my chappals and somebody carried them. But did the media see the problems I had to endure while walking bare-feet? On seeing a muddy road I simply removed my chappals and continued walking. I wasn't even aware that somebody has picked up my chappals. I learnt that later," Munde told PTI this evening.
"And that person was my private employee and not government servant. The real news is the drought and the condition of farmers," she said.
Congress spokesperson Al-Nasser Zakaria said the incident belied Munde's claim that she was sensitive to the plight of poor.
"Her attitude shows the government in bad light. This only shows her high-handedness and being completely oblivious to the rights of people...What good will she do for a poor farmer when she makes a poor person carry her slippers? All her claims of serving the poor have fallen flat," Zakaria said.