Last week when Pratap Sarnaik, an Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) corporator from Thane, gifted his political senior and water resources minister Ajit Pawar a Rs 15-lakh diamond-studded mobile phone on his birthday, many jaws dropped.
But Sarnaik — a hotelier and developer by profession — simply said it’s “no big deal”.
“It was just a small gesture to Pawar on his birthday from a Siddhivinayak devotee. He has stood by me when I had absolutely nothing,” he said. “It’s not a big gift for him and today this is not an exceptionally big sum for me either.”
“He’s made it from scratch. Why should he shy away from buying or gifting what he wants?’’ said Sanjay Patil, NCP legislator and Sarnaik’s colleague from his student politics days. But citizen groups are not impressed. “It says you have to please your leader in politics,” said Surendra Srivastava of Lok Satta, an organisation that works on political reforms.
This isn’t the first time Sarnaik’s in the news. He has sat with a fishing rod on Thane’s busiest road to bring attention to potholes, presented lanterns to electricity officials to protest load shedding.
It was his petition in Bombay High Court that brought relief to thousands of SSC students when the government took back its decision on the 70:30 admission formula.