A Maharashtra Bharatiya Janata Party MLA has told youngsters that he would "kidnap" the girl a boy likes even if she says no to the proposal, a controversial remark that drew sharp reactions from ally Shiv Sena and opposition parties.
Ram Kadam made the comments at a 'dahi handi' event in his suburban Ghatkopar assembly constituency in Mumbai Monday night.
"You (youngsters) can meet me for any work," he is heard in a video clip as telling the crowd, mainly comprising the youth.
Kadam went further, saying he has received requests from youngsters to help them after girls rejected their proposal.
"I will help, 100 per cent. Come (to me) with your parents. What will I do if parents approve? I will kidnap the girl concerned and hand her over to you (for marriage)," he is heard telling the crowd in Marathi. Kadam is also heard sharing his mobile number with the crowd.
When asked about the video clip, Kadam said his comments were distorted.
Shiv Sena sought Kadam's apology and asked Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who is also the state's home minister, what action would be taken against the MLA for making a statement that "threatens safety of girls".
The Congress called for Kadam's arrest, while the NCP said his comment brought to the fore "Ravana-like" face of the ruling party.
Sena leader Aaditya Thackeray said the MLA offering to marry off girls "against their will" meant the lawmaker believed that "marriage is like forming government".
"Ashamed and disgraced that he sits in the legislative assembly of Maharashtra- a land of culture & women liberty," he tweeted.
"Not just an outright apology from him, but I'd want to know from the Home Minister of Maharashtra what action will be taken for openly making such statements that threaten the safety of girls and offering safety to those wanting to kidnap them," he added.
Opposition Leader in Assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe-Patil said Kadam's remarks were unfortunate and condemnable. "The state government should immediately arrest him," he said.
State Nationalist Congress Party chief Jayant Patil said, "Cases should be filed against Kadam if a girl is kidnapped in Maharashtra as the MLA himself is encouraging their kidnapping."
"He should apologise. I am sure women members of the Assembly will pose questions to him," Patil said.
State Nationalist Congress Party spokesperson Nawab Malik said Kadam was speaking the language of abducting girls.
"What Kadam said has revealed the Ravana-like face of the BJP. Kadam said he would abduct a girl for a boy. Therefore, he should be called as 'Ravana' Kadam," Malik told reporters.