Controversial Hindutva leader Sambhaji Bhide has said that a number of couples were blessed with sons after eating mangoes from his orchard, drawing sharp reactions from various quarters.
"Mangoes are powerful and nutritious. Some women who ate mangoes of my gardenhave given birth to sons," Bhide said addressing a gathering in Nashik on Sunday night.
Bhide, a former Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh activist who heads the Shiv Pratishthan Hindustan, is an accused in the January 1 Bhima-Koregaon caste violence case.
While Nationalist Congress Party MP Supriya Sule has expressed deep anguish over Bhide's remarks, an anti-superstition organisation has demanded that a police case be filed against the right wing leader.
Sule said she was pained as a mother and a woman after hearing the statement of Bhide.
"For any woman, attaining motherhood and giving birth to a boy or a girl is a matter of pride. It is unfortunate that a shallow debate is taking place in the society on such personal matter," she said in Pune.
Maharashtra Andhshraddha Nirmulan Samiti state secretary Milind Deshmukh said Bhide's claim is a cognisable offence under the Anti-Superstition and Black Magic Act.
"Bhide's followers should take a lesson from such unscientific claims and think in which era Bhide is taking them," he said.
Bacchu Kadu, an independent MLA from Achalpur in Amaravati district, also demanded a police action against Bhinde.
During his speech in Nashik, Bhide had given various references from the Ramayana and Mahabharata and attacked the current political and social system.
Bhide had been booked in the violence case along with another Hindutva leader Milind Ekbote. However, unlike Ekbote he was never arrested in the case.
Clashes had taken place between members of the Dalit and Maratha communities around Bhima-Koregaon village in Pune district during the bicentenary event of the Bhima-Koregaon battle in which British forces comprising a large number of Dalit soldiers had defeated the Peshwas, who represented the Maratha empire.
One person was killed during the clashes.
Dalits view the 1818 battle as the defeat of 'casteist' Peshwas, who were Brahmins.
Bhide's outfit enjoys a sizable clout in Sangli, Satara, and Kolhapur districts of western Maharashtra. Bhide was in Nashik to deliver a lecture on a movement launched by him for setting up a '32 maund' golden throne at historic Raigad fort, the erstwhile capital of Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj's Maratha kingdom.
The 'maund' or 'mann' is the anglicised name for a traditional unit of mass used in British India. One maund was considered equivalent to 37.32 kg.