Under fire for suggesting that the use of feminine brand names would boost liquor sales, Maharashtra minister Girish Mahajan on Monday apologised for his remarks and said he did not intend to hurt the sentiments of women.
The remarks, at an event organised by a sugar mill in North Maharashtra's Nandurbar district on Saturday, were made in a lighter vein, he said.
"I regret my remarks. I express my apologies. It wasn't my intention to hurt women's sentiments," Mahajan, who handles the water resources portfolio, told reporters at a hurriedly convened press conference here.
"This (my remarks) is a mistake which happened unintentionally. It was not my intention to hurt anyone," he said.
What he said wasn't aimed at causing pain to women, the minister said.
"It was said in the flow of things, in a lighter vein," he added.
"If you want alcohol or any products' demand to rise, name it after a woman and see how demand soars," he had said on Saturday while attending an event of a sugar factory which also produces liquor under the brand name 'Maharaja'.
A video of his speech was uploaded on YouTube.
A police complaint has been filed in Chandrapur district against Mahajan for the alleged derogatory statement.
NCP state spokesperson Nawab Malik criticised Mahajan for his remarks.
"I think the minister is a habitual drinker and we appeal to all the women in Maharashtra to come out and fight against such a mindset," Malik said.
In an editorial in the party mouthpiece Saamana today, the Shiv Sena also took potshots at Mahajan.
"In a lot of places in Maharashtra, women are protesting against the sale of liquor. Despite being aware of it, Mahajan made these remarks which is unfortunate," the Sena said.