Cutting across party lines, state politicians slammed Thursday’s assault on Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar, but were divided over the cause of the incident.
Chief minister Prithviraj Chavan termed the attack a “serious security lapse”, given that Pawar’s assailant Harvinder Singh was previously held for attacking former union minister Sukhram.
“I condemn this incident. Pawar is as senior minister and national level politician and the attack points to serious security lapse,’’ said Chavan.
Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray, too, condemned the attack saying it was deplorable that someone could slap a politician of his stature.
“We have been friends and political opponents for long. I may not agree with him on many issues, but one has to accept that he is a politician with a huge stature. The way some man slapped him was shameful. Maharashtrians will not tolerate this attack,’’ said Thackeray, during an interaction with mediapersons in Pune.
He stressed that the NCP chief should not be compared with persons like Shanti Bhushan, lawyer and member of Team Anna, who was attacked in his office over statements he made about Jammu & Kashmir.
At a public function in New Delhi on Thursday, Pawar was slapped by a man identified as Harvinder Singh who claimed he was angry over corruption and price rise.
While some, like Chavan, attributed the incident to a security lapse, other leaders hinted at a larger political conspiracy behind the attack.
Home minister RR Patil and rural development minister Jayant Patil — both from Pawar’s NCP — said that the incident seemed to be a planned attack and should be probed.
“The incident is unfortunate and unacceptable. One gets the feeling that it was a planned move to get cheap publicity or to create an issue out of nothing. We have appealed to our party workers to maintain peace,’’ Jayant Patil said.
The home minister, on the other hand, said he would write to the Delhi Police to ensure Pawar’s security was beefed up.
Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray was also among those who sniffed a conspiracy. The MNS chief questioned how the attacker went scot-free [after attacking Sukhram] and was allowed to come so close to Pawar.
“There is a reason behind this attack… it has been plotted by someone,’’ he said.
Though many termed the incident as consequence of people’s anger against politicians, public works minister Chhagan Bhujbal said it was ridiculous to target NCP president Sharad Pawar as he had already given up the portfolio of Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution.
“Price rise decisions are taken by a group of ministers, so why should Pawar be singled out. I think his security should be beefed up immediately even if he doesn’t agree,” Bhujbal added. In his last 45 years of his political career has never kept any police security. Even today, only one police constable accompanies him.
Seeking closure to the controversy, Pawar’s daughter and NCP MP Supriya Sule said, “We don’t want to read politics into this. We just want to ignore and move forward. All political parties have deplored this incident and we appreciate their support.”