Minister of State for Public Works, Abdul Sattar, who beat up a party colleague in Aurangabad on Monday, faces an uncertain future.
Sattar’s violent act became a major embarrassment the Congress. Chief Minister, Ashok Chavan, described the incident as “unfortunate” and Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi told journalists in New Delhi that the party will not support such actions.
Chavan did not say whether he would sack the minister or let him go with a warning. The CM had handpicked Sattar for his team.
Sattar and his personal staff beat fellow Congressman, Mohammed Mushtaq, at a local hotel during a press conference called to declare Congress candidates for the April 11 municipal elections. Sattar allegedly attacked Mushtaq after an altercation over tickets for the polls.
Chavan, who is known to be Sattar’s mentor, played the incident down initially, but changed his stand following Singhvi’s statement.
After defending his colleague until Monday afternoon, Chavan told journalists a few hours later that the minister’s act was unfortunate. “I have seen the television footage [of the incident]. It’s unfortunate,” Chavan said.
When the Opposition put pressure on him, Chavan told the Assembly that he will make a statement on Sattar. Earlies this month, Sattar had engaged in a verbal duel with Deputy Chief Minister, Chhagan Bhujbal, and had asked his senior for powers to run the department.
Senior Congressmen believe Chavan chose to stop protecting Sattar because an embarrassed and agitated Congress high command had taken strong objection to the minister’s unruly behaviour.
Earlier, an unruffled Sattar justified his actions. “He [Mohammed Mushtaq] abused and threatened me. Even if I am a minister, I am human,” Sattar said. “There is a limit to tolerating abuses. He attacked me demanding a ticket.”
Sattar, sensing that the incident might cost him his ministerial berth, also expressed regret.
A senior Congress leader from Aurangabad told Hindustan Times, on the condition of anonymity, that Sattar had often courted controversy in the past.
“Sattar showered money on some women who danced at a police welfare programme in Sillod [Sattar’s home town] last year,” the leader alleged. “He also danced at this programme and at a lavani show in Aurangabad.”
Sattar was a member of the Council before being elected to the Assembly last year.