Maneka Gandhi’s de­mand for state for­est min­is­ter’s res­ig­na­tion laugh­able: Gad­kari

Dis­miss­ing his Cabi­net col­league’s al­le­ga­tions, Nitin Gad­kari asks if those killed in ti­gress at­tack were also agents of cor­po­rate com­pa­nies

Mid Day - - City - DHARMENDRA JORE

UNION min­is­ter and se­nior BJP leader Nitin Gad­kari has dis­missed his Cabi­net col­league Maneka Gandhi’s de­mand for Ma­ha­rash­tra For­est Min­is­ter Sud­hir Mun­gan­ti­war’s res­ig­na­tion over the killing of ti­gress T1 as laugh­able.

Gad­kari told me­dia per­sons in Nagpur yes­ter­day that the pol­i­tics over the culling of the ‘man-eater’ ti­gress had be­come dirt­ier and ir­re­spon­si­ble. He said the in­ci­dent of hunt­ing the ti­gress was un­for­tu­nate but very es­sen­tial in terms of sav­ing many lives in the fu­ture, adding that all pos­si­ble ef­forts were made to tran­quil­lise the big cat, and that the for­est depart­ment had to take a sad de­ci­sion be­cause many more hu­man lives were in grave dan­ger.

The cor­po­rate an­gle

“They say the ti­gress was killed to ben­e­fit the cor­po­rates. Does this mean that the poor peo­ple, mostly tribal, who the ti­gress had mauled, too, were agents of cor­po­rate com­pa­nies? The al­le­ga­tions are weird. They are tak­ing names of cor­po­rates just like that, with­out any ba­sis and ver­i­fi­ca­tion,” said the cen­tral min­is­ter.

Gad­kari was re­fer­ring to the al­le­ga­tion made by some Op­po­si­tion par­ties that the ti­gress was killed so that a par­tic­u­lar com­pany, which has pro­posed to build a ce­ment plant in the ti­gress-af­fected area, could take up con­struc­tion with­out any fear.

Maneka Gandhi had asked Chief Min­is­ter Deven­dra Fad­navis to sack Mun­gan­ti­war, hold­ing the for­est min­is­ter solely re­spon­si­ble for killing the ti­gress. She had al­leged that the hunter as­signed for the job had con­nec­tions with ter­ror­ists (as arms sup­plier).

Fad­navis had de­fended his party col­league, say­ing that the min­is­ter could not be held re­spon­si­ble, while as­sur­ing to probe pro­ce­dural lapses, if any.

Gad­kari said the crit­i­cism in me­dia and on so­cial me­dia was un­war­ranted and not based on facts.

“Have the peo­ple, who are now speak­ing for the killed ti­gress, both­ered to ask the fam­i­lies of the 13 peo­ple mauled how their Di­wali was? Has any­one of these peo­ple (ac­tivists and politi­cians) shed tears for the in­no­cent trib­als, Dal­its and farm­ers?” he asked.

“The peo­ple from Pand­harkawda [the af­fected area] met me and nar­rated to me the at­mos­phere of ter­ror and fear that the man-eater had cre­ated when she was alive.”

Congress lead­ers sup­port

Prom­i­nent Congress lead­ers from Ya­vat­mal dis­trict and for­mer min­is­ters Vas­ant Purke and Shiva­ji­rao Moghe, too, have en­dorsed the killing.

Purke said the for­est depart­ment had de­layed the hunt. “The ti­gress could have been tran­quil­lised im­me­di­ately after her first kill. Hun­dreds of acres of land has not been at­tended to out of fear. The wildlife lovers should visit these peo­ple to know the real story be­hind the fear that had paral­ysed nor­mal life,” he added.

Moghe said the for­est depart­ment had showed ex­tra­or­di­nary pa­tience in the last one year.

“The ti­gress had to be killed be­cause all at­tempts to cap­ture her alive failed. After all, hu­man lives are im­por­tant,” he added.

Chief of state-con­trolled farm­ers mis­sion Kishor Ti­wari said Maneka Gandhi was anti-farm­ers. “The ac­tivists who find com­fort in air-con­di­tioned homes and of­fices had de­layed the ef­forts to check the ti­gress men­ace by mov­ing court time and again. The same peo­ple are now crit­i­cis­ing the for­est depart­ment, and Maneka Gandhi is lead­ing their flock. Ul­ti­mately, their crit­i­cism is prov­ing to be anti-farmer and anti-tribal,” he said from Nagpur.

Ti­wari de­manded that Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi tell Maneka Gandhi to be­have.

mid-day’s front-page re­port on Nov 8

Union Min­is­ter Nitin Gad­kari

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