Nationalist Congress Party president Sharad Pawar on Thursday admonished his partyman Bhaskar Jadhav for the extravagant weddings of the latter’s son and daughter.
Minister of State for Urban Development Jadhav had arranged a lavish wedding for both his son and daughter in the city of Chiplun, 300 km from here.
According to reports, the venues of the big fat weddings of Samir and Kanchan Jadhav — that are estimated to have cost a staggering Rs. 3-4 crore — were swarming with choppers and car convoys to ferry VIPs from as many as 22 helipads to the spot of the marriage.
Speaking to a local TV channel, Mr. Pawar said he was “disturbed” by media reports of “gratuitous extravagance” displayed at a social occasion by one of his party men, especially when the State was in the grip of a severe drought.
“It does not befit a person of public standing to indulge in such gaudy displays of pomp in times of crisis or even during normal occasions,” said the NCP chief.
Mr. Pawar remarked that while nearly two lakh people had attended the wedding of his daughter Supriya Sule, all they were given on the occasion were a couple of “pedhas.”
Last week, Home Minister and senior NCP leader R.R. Patil offered his monthly salary of Rs. 57,000 towards drought relief. Mr. Pawar exhorted all NCP MPs, MLAs and zilla-level workers to donate one-month’s salary to the cause while he himself donated his monthly honorarium of Rs. 1,58,000 to the party’s welfare fund.
Mr. Jadhav has apologised to Mr. Pawar, stating that it was never his intention to hurt the sentiments of the State’s populace by the weddings.
“If need be, I’m even willing to account for costs incurred for the weddings by submitting details to the I-T department,” said Mr. Jadhav.
Fifteen of the State’s districts, mainly in the Vidarbha and Marathwada regions, have been adversely hit by the drought with roughly one tanker needed to supply water in the 650 worst-hit villages in these districts, most of them barely having any potable water reserves to last them till March.
Earlier, Mr. Pawar said the situation was “grim indeed” and could spell trouble for the drought-hit areas in the coming months — a fact echoed by Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan who has remarked that the present drought was more severe than the one that ravaged the State in 1972.
The Chief Minister, himself, has appealed to politicians across the spectrum to desist from exploiting the situation to gain ‘cheap popularity.’