The killing of tigress Avni had blown into a major political issue – with two senior BJP leaders – Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi and Maharashtra’s Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar seeking each other’s resignations.
It has become an embarrassing situation for Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who too is being ridiculed in the social media for the killing of tigress T1, nicknamed Avni, last week in the Pandharkawada area of Yavatmal district. The matter has even reached the Prime Minister’s Office.
Meanwhile, the principal Opposition parties, Congress and NCP have slammed Mungantiwar.
The two Thackeray cousins – Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, whose party is an alliance partner in the BJP-led government and MNS president Raj Thackeray too targetted Mungantiwar.
Maneka, a known animal rights activist, had called for sacking of Mungantiwar – and described the killing as a “straight case of crime”. “Tigress Avni could have been saved if Mungantiwar had been a little more patient, sensitive an persistent. Request you to fix responsibility of killing and removing the minister from post,” she said.
Mungantiwar on the other hand blamed Gandhi and said that she needs to put in her papers owing moral responsibility because of malnutrition deaths. “We can tender resignations together on moral grounds,” he said.
Fadnavis, however, has ruled out the resignation of Mungantiwar and said he would personally speak to Gandhi and clarify the issue.
On the state front, Thackeray has asked the Sena ministers to raise the issue in the weekly Cabinet meeting.
“There was negligence on various aspects and the minister should take up the responsibility,” Leader of Opposition in Assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil of the Congress said.
State NCP president Jayant Patil alleged that the forest department had killed Avni to help mining industries of top business houses in that region.
Raj too joined the issue saying that power has gone into the head of BJP and they need to be shown the place. “Do you want to sell the forests to Anil Ambani,” he wanted to know.