An Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party legislator (MLC) Gopichand Padalkar sparked a massive row after he said, senior Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar is a "Corona infection of Maharashtra", here on Wednesday.
Attacking Pawar, the BJP MLC accused him of playing casteist-cum-divisive politics and said, "he is the Coronavirus" which has afflicted the state.
"He (Pawar) has been the head (CM) of the state, but he did only injustice to the Bahujan community. He has no ideology, but ignites small communities to force them to join him and then do injustice," Padalkar said.
He accused the veteran NCP leader of allegedly denying reservations to the Dhangar community and instead of politicizing the issue.
Padalkar's comments took even the BJP by surprise, coming a day after Leader of Opposition (Assembly) Devendra Fadnavis claimed that the NCP wanted to join hands with the BJP to form the government in the state.
Former CM Devendra Fadnavis on the MLC's remark
Senior BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis, while talking about the issue, said that the remarks made by the party MLC Gopichand Padalkar on NCP chief and veteran politician Sharad Pawar are not appropriate.
Fadnavis also informed that Padalkar accepted that it was an emotional outburst against Pawar.
"Making such remarks against senior leaders is not appropriate," the former chief minister told reporters in Solapur.
"I had a word with Padalkar. I told him that though Pawar Saheb is our political opponent he is not our enemy. I told him that forget Pawar Saheb, making such remarks against any senior leader is not appropriate.
"If anyone wants to express his opposition, it should be done using appropriate words," said Fadnavis, who is the Leader of Opposition in the state Legislative Assembly.
"Padalkar said he will give a clarification. He has accepted...Young leaders from all parties should exercise restraint while speaking," he added.
NCP slammed the remark
NCP activists staged protests and raised slogans against Padalkar in Mumbai, Pune, Nashik, and in Beed, they burnt his effigy, while a protest was announced in Pune on Thursday in support of the 79-year old NCP chief.
NCP Housing Minister Jitendra Awhad said, "The man who was begging to join the NCP, and was abusing (PM) Narendra Modi later went and got a ticket from the BJP", so what was his locus-standi to attack Pawar in such derogatory terms."
Hitting back, NCP spokesperson Mahesh Tapase labeled Padalkar as "a party-hopper who is affected by a mental bug".
"He backstabbed the Bahujan communities by siding with a communal party. Instead of criticizing Sharad Pawar, he should first prove what he has done for the community," Tapase said.
Another NCP leader Ankush Kakade demanded an unconditional apology from Padalkar and threatened to 'gherao' him wherever he travels in Maharashtra.