'Did the media see the problems I had to endure while walking barefeet?'
Maharashtra Rural Development Minister Pankaja Munde is embroiled in a controversy after a member of her staff was seen carrying her slippers during a recent tour of drought-affected regions in the state.
Munde, however, defended herself saying that the man was in her personal employment.
During her visit to Sonpeth in Parbhani district, Munde took her chappals (slippers) off seeing a muddy road ahead. While she walked barefeet, a man picked up her chappals. The visuals broadcast by television channel put the minister in a spot.
"The media sees that I removed my chappals and somebody carried them. But did the media see the problems I had to endure while walking barefeet? On seeing a muddy road, I simply removed my chappals and continued walking. I wasn't even aware that somebody has picked them up," Munde told PTI.
"And that person was my private employee and not a government servant. The real news is the drought and the condition of farmers," she added in her defense.
Munde also tweeted pictures from her visit and said, "Zoom i m barefeet bcoz chappal got stuck in the mud i walked from up till down without footwear."
The Opposition Congress, however, did not buy Munde's explanation and took the opportunity to take a swipe at her, saying it showed her "high-handed attitude". Congress spokesperson Al-Nasser Zakaria said the incident belied Munde's claim that she was sensitive to the plight of poor.
"Her attitude shows the government in bad light. This only shows her high-handedness and being completely oblivious to the rights of people...What good will she do for a poor farmer when she makes a poor person carry her slippers? All her claims of serving the poor have fallen flat," Zakaria said.
Munde recently battled controversy involving alleged corruption in clearing contracts worth crores for the supply of snacks at government schools.
With inputs from PTI