Mumbai: Ajit Pawar, the Deputy Chief Minister of Maharashtra, has said that his crass and thoughtless comments on the power and water shortage in his state are "the biggest mistake of my political life." At a rally over the weekend, the 53-year-old asked if leaders should urinate to supply water.
Maharashtra is lacerated by drought.
Addressing reporters this evening in Mumbai, Mr Pawar said, " Holding an important position, I should have spoken with responsibility. I again humbly apologize to everyone I have hurt."
Mr Pawar's expiation is unlikely to propitiate his opponents, many of who are demanding his resignation.
Since last evening, when the video of his rally began playing out on news channels, even his Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), which co-governs Maharashtra with the Congress, has expressed its revulsion with Mr Pawar's comments.
"We are very serious about drought relief," Mr Pawar said in the Maharashtra Assembly this morning. "My statement wasn't about those affected by the drought. But I should have used my words carefully. If I have hurt anyone's feelings, I apologise to the people and this house," he stressed.
At a rally over the weekend near Pune, Mr Pawar ridiculed a farmer who has been on a hunger strike for nearly two months. "There is this person from Solapur, sitting on hunger strike for 64 days demanding water be released from the dam. But where are we going to get water from? Should we urinate? And when we don't have water to drink, it's hard to pass urine as well."
The audience laughed, encouraging Mr Pawar to then offer the lighter side of lengthy power cuts. "I have come to know that because power goes off in the night, many children are being born. When there is no power, people seem to have no other work."
The farmer Mr Pawar spoke about said, "Ajit Pawar has upset all of Maharashtra. We voted for him, and he has to find solutions to the water shortage we are facing." The farmer, Prabhakar 'Bhaiyya' Deshmukh, has threatened to sit on a protest fast outside Chief Minister's residence. (Read: Who said what)