PUNE: Senior BJP leader and minister Girish Bapat has caused the Devendra Fadnavis government some embarrassment with his remarks at a pomegranate farmers’ meet in Pune on January 6.
Alink to the clip on a video-sharing website showed Bapat saying, “Ek varshanantar sarkar badalnar aahe, kay ghyayache asel tar attach amchya pathi mage laga,”(Whatever you plan to seek from us, seek it now because the government will change the next year). “I will not discuss what is going to happen next at this forum, but I know what is going to happen,” he added at the farmers’ meeting.

Messages congratulating him for the “bold” statement have gone viral on other social media platforms. The Congress and the NCP lauded Bapat for making everyone see the “ground reality”. The BJP’s partner in the state government, the Shiv Sena, hailed Bapat for “speaking the truth”.

Bapat could not be reached over the phone. The spokesman of his public relations agency told TOI they too were unable to connect with him.

State finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar told TOI on Thursday, “I have spoken with Bapat about the issue. What he said was aimed at ensuring that people follow up their demands and work is speeded up. Our party chief Amit Shah has said the BJP will be in power for the next 50 years.”

Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut told TOI, “Bapat is a true Punekar. He is from the RSS background and will not lie. What was in his heart sprang to his lips.”

Bapat is only BJP leader aware of the ground reality: Supriya Sule

Senior Congress leader and former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan told TOI, “I have spoken with many state ministers. Bapat has dared to speak in public. But privately, most ministers admit that they are feeling depressed. They know their party will lose the next elections in Maharashtra due to the growing unrest in the people over the government’s failure to create new jobs and bring new investments.”

NCP leader Supriya Sule, while speaking to a Marathi news channel, stated, “I welcome Bapat’s statement. He is the only leader in the BJP who is aware of the ground reality.”

Bapat is a six-time MLA from Pune. He is the state cabinet minister for food and civil supplies, consumer protection, food and drug administration, parliamentary affairs as well as the guardian minister of Pune. His statement has shocked his supporters.

Sanjay Kakade, BJP Rajya Sabha MP from Pune, said “I do not know on what basis Bapat said this. We have done very good work in the state and I am certain that we will get reelected.”

Kakade had also courted controversy when he had said that the BJP would not win the Gujarat elections. Bapat’s supporters had sought action against Kakade. He then apologized.

On whether he or his supporters would do the same thing to Bapat, Kakade said, “Bapat is a minister in the cabinet and it is the CM’s prerogative to take a call in such matters. I have not made such a demand.”

City BJP chief Yogesh Gogawale told TOI that he has not received any complaint from the party workers seeking action against Bapat. “I have not met Bapat and I am not aware about what he said,” he added.

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