Pankaja Munde, Maharashtra's Minister for Rural Development and Water Conservation, has been accused of "gross insensitivity" after she posted a series of selfies on Twitter clicked in Latur, reeling under drought, during a weekend tour. Munde is seen smiling at the camera against a backdrop of acres of soil being turned by earth moving machines.
Selfie with trench of said barrage Manjara .. one relief to latur .. pic.twitter.com/r49aEVxSSk— PankajaGopinathMunde (@Pankajamunde) April 17, 2016
2 selfie with bandhara pic.twitter.com/OKFeyT3OPS— PankajaGopinathMunde (@Pankajamunde) April 16, 2016
Water conservation is happening massively ...isn't it "sawedana " for "duskhal" pic.twitter.com/HbDMkxtxaA— PankajaGopinathMunde (@Pankajamunde) April 17, 2016
Although Munde, 36, accompanied the photos with texts about the work being done to conserve water, the photos triggered outrage online.
"BJP as a whole is a selfie and optics party, this is like making a mockery of the drought," India Today quoted a Congress spokesperson as saying. Latur has been reeling under severe drought. Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has said his government's first priority is to provide water for drinking. The CM said the situation in Marathwada region is grim. Water has even been supplied through trains to Latur.
Munde later took to Twitter to defend herself, saying the photos were clicked to show the work done by the government.
This pics are work done by govt n ppl participation it's my dept n I was working from day 1sence of satisfaction if it rains we are ready— PankajaGopinathMunde (@Pankajamunde) April 17, 2016
Last year too, Munde was under fire after a member of her staff was seen carrying her slippers during a tour of the drought-affected regions in the state. During her visit to Sonpeth in Parbhani district, Munde took her slippers off seeing a muddy road ahead. While she walked bare-feet, a man picked up her slippers.
The condemnation came in fast and furious.
Pankaja munde, water conservation minister of maharashtra takes a selfie while reviewing d drought situation. SHAME pic.twitter.com/uZ9uBY0nmb— Rana Ayyub (@RanaAyyub) April 18, 2016
Pankaja Munde took a drought selfie? Something that clearly needs a chullu bhar paani— Madhavan Narayanan (@madversity) April 18, 2016
Pankaja Munde took a drought selfie . Next she and Fadnavis can also take selfies with dead farmer bodies!— Tehseen Poonawalla (@tehseenp) April 18, 2016
A selfie in front of a #drought scene shows a tin ear for public opinion. Was Pankaja Munde trying to prove she was actually there?— Sitaraman Shankar (@shankarht) April 18, 2016
If you have ever heard the term Liberal Outrage from a Leftist and wondered what it meant? This Pankaja Munde Selfie outrage is it.— ☭ Arun Nambiar ☭ (@aruns_nambiar) April 18, 2016
Once they come to power problems faced by citizens won't matter to them: Manish Tewari, Cong on Pankaja selfie row https://t.co/C462ZjPtRW— TIMES NOW (@TimesNow) April 18, 2016
The arrogant display of insensitivity continues.— Harmeet Singh (@HarmeetSSangha) April 17, 2016
Pankaja Mundhe busy clicking selfie during Latur visit. https://t.co/n0xw1XdxwX