Maharashtra: Row over BJP minister carrying revolver at kids' event
Defending his cabinet colleague Girish Mahajan who is being criticised for attending a children's event with a revolver tucked in his waist, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said he has not broken any law.
Maharashtra minister and BJP leader Girish Mahajan faced flak on Monday after attending an event for deaf and dumb children with a revolver tucked in his waist, an act dubbed as "inappropriate".
Amid the controversy, chief ninister Devendra Fadnavis defended his cabinet colleague, saying he had not broken any law.
Mahajan later clarified that he carried the weapon for "self-defence" and that he has not been involved in any kind of violence.
"I admit that the revolver was visible. But never have I pointed a revolver, or gotten involved in violence of any kind in my life. The revolver is merely for self-defence," he told reporters.
The issue of water resources minister Mahajan carrying a revolver, which was very much visible, at an event on Saturday for deaf and mute children in Jalgaon city was raised in both the Houses of state Legislature on Monday.
In the assembly, the Opposition Congress and NCP demanded sacking of the minister for attending a function of differently-abled children with a revolver tucked in his waist as it sent a wrong message in the society. The Opposition members boycotted the Question Hour in protest.
Fadnavis said the Opposition was trying to create an unnecessary controversy. "Mahajan has a licence to carry weapon for last two decades. Licence holder is expected to carry the weapon and not keep it at home," he said.
However, he agreed that the weapon was visible while the minister attended a function and necessary directives would be given to him in this regard.
When the matter was raised in the Council, Fadnavis said, "Girish Mahajan has a licence for keeping a weapon. He is carrying it with him from the last 25 years. A licence is given only when a person needs to keep a revolver for his safety. He has not broken any law by carrying a revolver."
The chief minister was replying to Sunil Tatkare (NCP), who took a jibe at Mahajan and questioned the need to carry a revolver at the children's event.
"His revolver was tucked in his waist and a controversy was created out of it by news channels when a portion of the pistol became visible inadvertently," Fadnavis said.
Meanwhile, Mahajan later said that his revolver is merely for self-defence and that he has not been involved in any kind of violence before.
"I admit that the revolver was visible. But never have I pointed a revolver, or gotten involved in violence of any kind in my life. The revolver is merely for self-defence," the minister told reporters in Mumbai. Earlier, the issue was raised by NCP group leader Jayant Patil in the assembly soon after the House assembled for the day.
He wondered if the state's law and order situation was so bad that a minister needed to carry a revolver to a school.
Mahajan said the NCP was targeting him because he had started a probe into the irrigation scam.
NCP leader Ajit Pawar demanded sacking of Mahajan.
"Why was the minister trying to scare the citizens by displaying his weapon?" Pawar asked.
Leader of Opposition in assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil and NCP member Chhagan Bhujbal also criticised Mahajan for possessing a revolver while addressing children in school.
They demanded a statement from the government and discussion on the matter.
NCP legislator Jayant Patil asked the government to explain why a minister with police protection needed a weapon. “Mahajan was on a visit to a school for differently-abled children, who must have seen his revolver. This must have had an impact on their minds. He should be asked to refrain from behaving in this manner,” Patil said.
Assembly speaker Haribhau Bagde said the minister's conduct was inappropriate and that he would issue necessary directives to the government in this regard. He assured the assembly that Mahajan will be told to be careful if he is taking carrying his revolver in a public space.
Education minister Vinod Tawde said Mahajan was expected to return to Mumbai in the evening.
"It is only then we can know his side of the story," Tawde added.
Shiv Sena leader and state environment minister Ramdas Kadam said that if the minister was carrying a licenced weapon, there should be no problem.
Elected to the assembly from Jalgaon, Mahajan is considered a close aide of chief minister Fadnavis.