Although reports of water resources minister Girish Mahajan carrying a gun to a school programme in Jalgaon led to an uproar in the legislature and criticism from across the state, people from his home district were not very surprised. The minister is known for courting trouble.
Mahajan, 54, a five-time Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA, is considered to be a close aide of chief minister Devendra Fadnavis.
The gun controversy is the third incident in the past four months, where the minister has been in the limelight for the wrong reasons.
Two weeks ago, Assembly speaker Haribhau Bagade had to give Mahajan a warning, asking him to behave properly or face action after a clash with Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MLA Satish Patil.
The NCP had objected to Mahajan’s threatening gesture — he showed Patil his fist — and had demanded an apology from the minister.
Prior to this, Mahajan had claimed that an irrigation contractor had approached him and offered a bribe of Rs100 crore to retain a Rs1,100-crore contract sanctioned by the previous government.
He made this revelation soon after he took charge of the irrigation department. Despite repeated demands by the Opposition, Mahajan did not reveal the name of the contractor.
Although the chief minister has publicly defended Mahajan over the gun incident, sources claim Fadnavis is upset and has “advised” his colleague to avoid such controversies.
The minister, who was elected from Jamner constituency in Jalgaon district, claims he is a politician who prefers to stay connected with the people. And this is true for the people in his constituency.
Mahajan is known to sit at a roadside stall, sip tea and have long conversations. He is also famous for roaming around on his bike and stopping to interact with people.
According to sources, Mahajan, who is from the Gurjar Patil community, is also being seen as the BJP’s emerging leader from north Maharashtra, a position currently occupied by revenue minister Eknath Khadse.