MUMBAI: Maharashtra minister Giriraj Mahajan’s tour of flood-devastated Sangli district has landed the five-term BJP MLA in an embarrassing position, after a video released by news agency showed him taking a selfie and smiling and waving cheerfully while he was inspecting a district in which thousands have been displaced and entire roads and villages inundated.
One of the worst-hit districts in Maharashtra, fourteen people died in Sangli yesterday after a boat engaged in rescue work overturned. As many as 12 National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) teams have been dispatched to the region and more than 50,000 have been evacuated so far.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had conducted an aerial survey of flood-hit districts yesterday, describing the situation as “very grim”.
The Chief Minister, who cut short an ongoing mass outreach programme after criticism from the opposition, also chaired a review meeting in Mumbai, which had been attended by Girish Mahajan, who is also the state water resources minister.
Mr Mahajan’s actions have invited criticism from the opposition, with NCP leader Dhananjay Munde saying Chief Minister Fadnavis ought to take action against the “insensitive minister”.
“Minister @girishdmahajan and officials were smiled, posed selfie. Are the rulers left with any sensitivity?@Dev_Fadnavis ji take resignation of this insensitive minister, suspend the officials concerned,” Mr Munde wrote in Hindi.
Girish Mahajan’s ‘flood selfie’ raises memories of a similar action by another BJP leader and minister – Pankaja Munde – who was criticised for a selfie while visiting drought-hit Marathwada district in April 2016.
Ms Munde, who was the rural development minister (a portfolio she still holds), was at a village in the Latur region to review desilting work in a nearby river when she stopped to click a selfie. Her action came under attack from both opposition members and BJP ally Shiv Sena.
In response to the criticism, Ms Munde said she only took the picture to celebrate seeing water in what had earlier been a dried-up river.