Maharashtra minister and BJP leader Girish Mahajan faced flak today after he attended an event for deaf and dumb children with a revolver tucked in his waist, an act dubbed as "inappropriate".
The matter was also raised in both the Houses of state Legislature with the opposition demanding the sacking of Mahajan, who is the minister for water resources.
But Mahajan later clarified that he carries the weapon for "self-defence" and that he has not been involved in any kind of violence.
"I admit that the revolver was visible. But never have I pointed a revolver, or gotten involved in violence of any kind in my life. The revolver is merely for self-defence," he told reporters here.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis defended his Cabinet colleague, saying he has not broken any law.
Mahajan attended a deaf and dumb children's event in Jalgaon yesterday with his revolver tucked in his waist which was very much visible for everyone. He hails from Jalgaon district.
In the Assembly, the Opposition Congress and NCP demanded sacking of the minister as it sent a wrong message in the society. The Opposition members also boycotted the Question Hour in protest.
Fadnavis said the Opposition was trying to create an unnecessary controversy. "Mahajan has a licence to carry weapon for last two decades. Licence holder is expected to carry the weapon and not keep it at home," he said.
However, he agreed that the weapon was visible while the minister attended a function and necessary directives would be given to him in this regard.
When the matter was raised in the Council, Fadnavis said, "Girish Mahajan has a licence for keeping a weapon. He is carrying it with him from the last 25 years. A licence is given only when a person needs to keep a revolver for his safety. He has not broken any law by carrying a revolver."
The Chief Minister was replying to Sunil Tatkare (NCP), who took a jibe at Mahajan and questioned the need to carry a revolver at the children's event.
"His revolver was tucked in his waist and a controversy was created out of it by news channels when a portion of the pistol became visible inadvertently," Fadnavis said.
Earlier, the issue was raised by NCP group leader Jayant Patil in the Legislative Assembly soon after the House assembled for the day.
He wondered if the state's law and order situation was so bad that a minister needed to carry a revolver to a school.
NCP leader Ajit Pawar demanded sacking of Mahajan.
"Why was the minister trying to scare the citizens by displaying his weapon?" Pawar asked.
Leader of Opposition in Assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil and NCP member Chhagan Bhujbal also criticised Mahajan.
They demanded a statement from the government and discussion on the matter.
Assembly Speaker Haribhau Bagde said the minister's conduct was inappropriate and that he would issue necessary directives to the government in this regard.
Shiv Sena leader and state environment minister Ramdas Kadam said that if the minister was carrying a licenced weapon, there should be no problem.