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'We didn't force-feed him, don't give it a communal colour'

By Prasanna D Zore/
July 23, 2014 16:05 IST
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Shiv Sena MP from Mumbai South, Arvind Sawant, vehemently denies that his party MP force-fed a Muslim worker during his Ramzan fast. Prasanna D Zore/ reports.

Responding to reports of Shiv Sena MP Rajan Vichare force-feeding a Muslim worker of Maharashtra Sadan in New Delhi, Arvind Sawant, first-time Shiv Sena MP from Mumbai South, said his party has respect for all religions and was not happy with what had happened.

“A person’s religion is not written on his face. It was not a deliberate attempt. We did not force-feed anybody. One of us just asked him (the Muslim worker) to check if such badly cooked food was fit to eat. Nobody thrust a chapatti in his mouth,” said Sawant.  

“Resident Commissioner (of Maharashtra Sadan) Bipin Mallick is conspiring against us. He is deliberately insulting MPs from Maharashtra,” Sawant charged.

“The incident took place on July 17. Why is it being raked up now?” asked Sawant, alleging that the Shiv Sena MPs would soon expose the malpractices at Maharashtra Sadan for which they hold Mallick responsible.
“Why are you giving it a religious colour? Who is doing this?” asked Sawant hinting that Mallick, to save himself, was behind the act to give the incident a communal colour.
Sawant said there was simmering discontent against Mallick who, despite repeated pleas from Shiv Sena MPs for a meeting to discuss the unfair treatment meted out to them, was ignoring and avoiding them.
Sawant, who is also a trade union leader, alleged that Mallick was engaged in malpractices at Maharashtra Sadan and was scared to face his party MPs for fear of being exposed. “Very soon, our MPs are going to file a privilege motion against him,” Sawant said.
Explaining the sequence of events that led to the fracas, Sawant said the Sena MPs reached Maharashtra Sadan in New Delhi early June and were accommodated in small rooms. “Even MLAs from other parties and states were given bigger rooms,” he said. “Is an MP lower in grade and status than an MLA? Isn’t this proof that Bipin Mallick wants to ridicule and discriminate against elected MPs from Maharashtra?” he asked.
For more than a month, since June 3, the MPs were made to run from pillar to post for getting suitable accommodation, proper food and drinking water at Maharashtra Sadan.
Sawant said the Sena MPs got to know that Mallick had given rooms meant for Maharashtra MPs to some MLAs and MPs from north India.
On July 17, Sawant said, Mallick promised to meet the agitated Shiv Sena MPs but backed out at the last moment saying he had to receive Maharashtra Sadan chief secretary J Saharia at the airport.
“First he told us he will be there to meet us after an hour’s delay. But he did not turn up. Instead, when Saharia came to the Sadan we protested and wanted him to see the unhygienic kitchen conditions, polluted water, and the food we were served at the Sadan. In the heat of the moment Vichareji (Rajan Vichare, Shiv Sena MP from Thane) took a small portion of chapatti and took it near the mouth of this person. He did not try to force-feed him. The TV cameras were there. Cameras don’t lie,” Sawant said.
Later, Saharia apologised for the poor hygiene and accommodation for the MPs and promised them that they would get bigger rooms the following Monday (June 21) but that too has not been done, Sawant said.
Sawant said for more than a month his party MP from Shirur, Shivaji Adhalrao Patil, has been writing to Mallick but the later took no cognisance of Patil’s letter. He said anger had been brewing among the Sena MPs against the resident commissioner and till their demands are met and irregularities at Maharashtra Sadan corrected, they will continue with their protest against Mallick.
Sawant also said they will not apologise to the Muslim worker, which newspaper reports allege was force-fed by Vichare, because they had not done anything deliberately or hurt his religious sentiments. “Where is the question of apology? We did not force-feed him. Please be human and don’t give it a religious colour.”

Image: Shiv Sena MP from Mumbai South, Arvind Sawant.

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Prasanna D Zore/ in Mumbai
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