Maharashtra minister Pankaja Munde, who came under attack for clicking selfies while on a visit to drought-hit Marathwada, has defended herself saying she took pictures out of elation on seeing water in a trench in the dried up river.
Munde, who is the rural development minister, came in the line of fire from across the political spectrum for clicking selfies while she was at a village in drought-hit Latur on Sunday, for reviewing the desilting work in Manjara river, which has nearly dried up.
While the Shiv Sena took pot-shots at Munde saying that such photo sessions could have been avoided, the Opposition Congress and the NCP said that she has mocked the drought-affected farmers by such a “shameful act.”
Undeterred by the attack, Munde said it was out of “contentment” of seeing water in the trench due to the desliting work that she took selfies.
“I have taken several review meetings on the drought condition in Latur. Have made efforts to dig trenches at various places so that water could be fetched from them. But met with failure most of the times. Yesterday, while I was in Latur to take stock of the Manjara river, I saw some water which gave me a feeling of contentment,” Munde said in a statement issued in Mumbai.
“It was like finding an oasis in a desert for me. By levelling false allegations on me, who are these people trying to help, drought hit villagers or farmers? These pictures were clicked in the heat of 45 degrees C to show my appreciation for the work my department has done. There was no excitement in it, only contentment,” she added.
Munde’s party, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has also defended her saying she is a hard working leader and is being misinterpreted.
Minister of state for skill development and entrepreneurship Rajiv Pratap told ANI that Munde has been making relentless endeavours to pull Maharashtra out of the water crisis and is being misinterpreted.
“The selfie, which is doing rounds against her, was taken at a trench. From past many days Pankaja was monitoring many such trenches but no water was found. The place where she took a photo was a trench where water was cited. The photo she took was out of happiness. I think a hard working Minister like Pankaja takes a photo after finding water at a time when major efforts were made to locate water is nothing bad. All of the case is being misconstrued. We should get over all these things and work collectively to help Maharashtra combat such situation,” said Rudy.