Rural development minister Pankaja Munde finds herself in the eye of a storm yet again, this time for taking a selfie during her visit to drought-affected areas. While the Opposition parties have criticised her for being ‘non-serious about a critical issue’, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ally Shiv Sena said she could have avoided a fresh controversy.
The BJP minister was in Latur on Sunday to inspect the work related to deepening the waterbed linked to Manjara River. She has been accused of being casual after she clicked a selfie the trench in the background and posted it on her Twitter account.
NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik termed Munde’s action as ‘drought tourism’. “It shows that the government isn’t serious about the drought situation. This is nothing, but drought tourism,” he said.
“The drought in the state is so severe that women and children are forced to walk miles to fetch a single pail of water, often injuring themselves. A selfie at such an occasion is highly insensitive and strange, since one normally clicks a selfie on happy occasions. The minister could have avoided fresh controversies,” said Sena spokesperson Manisha Kayande.
Munde, meanwhile, avoided the state cabinet meeting on Monday, with sources close to her claiming she was unwell.
The minister, meanwhile, took the social networking route to refute the allegations levelled against her. Insisting that the matter was blown out of proportion, she said she was really happy to see water in the trench during her visit and had therefore clicked some photographs of the trench at Sai Bhandara with water as a record of the work being carried out.
“I had clicked that photo in 45 degree Celsius simmering heat. I was really happy to see water in such dry plains like oasis in desert. This is not a photo of any event or function. There was not excitement but just satisfaction to see some ray of hope,” Munde clarified on Facebook.
She also hit back at her critics, saying that she could not understand who being benefitted by levelling these charges. “Daily spicy food is unbearable for both who prepares it and who eats it (sic),” she pointed out.