Opposition Congress and NCP today demanded sacking of BJP MP Gopal Shetty for his controversial remarks over farmers' suicides and threatened to raise the issue in forthcoming Assembly session if he "is not made to pay for hurting sentiments".
Congress spokesperson Al-Nasser Zakaria said Shetty has "laid bare the gross neglect" of the BJP towards the plight ofdrought-hit farmers in the state.
"Gopal Shetty's comments have laid bare gross neglect of the party towards farmers who are committing suicides due to the hardships they are facing. It seems BJP thinks that its party leaders can say whatever they like and get away with it always.
"But, this time, they have mocked the helpless farmers who are expecting assistance from the government. Prime Minister Narendra Modi should intervene in the matter and sack him (Shetty) from the party and take away his membership status," he said.
Shetty has kicked up a storm, at a time when Maharashtra is battling an agrarian crisis, by attributing farmers' suicides to a "fashion" and "trend" to end lives.
However, he later said his statement was "completely distorted" and taken out of context by the media.
Condemning his remarks, NCP senior leader Nawab Malik said the Sharad Pawar-led party cannot dissociate itself from "anti-farmer" comments and that the issue will be raised in the Assembly session.
"The real face of the BJP, which has always been anti-farmers is out. If Shetty has made the remarks in his individual capacity, he should be thrown out of the party.
Until that happens, the party cannot dissociate itself. "We have protested against his comments today and will continue to do so. This issue will also be taken up on the floor of the House," he added.