Nitin Gadkari: Maneka Gandhi's demand for state forest minister's resignation laughable
Dismissing his Cabinet colleague's allegations, Nitin Gadkari asks if those killed in tigress Avni (T1)'s attack were also agents of corporate companies
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.
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