Maharashtra Water Supply Minister Babanrao Lonikar raked up a controversy on Tuesday when he asked Bharatiya Janata Party activists to “hit back” at anybody criticizing Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Addressing a meeting of party workers here, Lonikar hit out at Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi who toured the district last Friday and launched a blistering attack on the government.
Even mimicking Gandhi, he asked: “Was Rahul Gandhi sleepy or drunk? Nobody is giving him their daughter, he is not getting married, why does he chant Modi, Modi’?”
Lonikar called upon the BJP activists not to take any criticism of Modi lying down and give a befitting reply to the critics.
“If anybody criticizes your leader, then respond to it. Challenge all criticism, burn their effigies, barge into their meetings, protest against them and get it published in the media and show,” he said.
In a sharp rebuttal, state Congress President Ashok Chavan said: “Babanrao Lonikar has lost his mental balance and is in dire need of psychiatric treatment.”
Condemning the minister, he said the level of Lonikar’s language has brought to the fore the real face of the BJP and demanded immediate action against him.
“He is directly instigating violence by his statements, the government must take cognizance and initiate action against him,” he demanded.
Chavan said it’s the constitutional right of the opposition to criticize the government’s wrong policies and decisions, but “the BJP does not recognize the Constitution or has faith in democracy.”
“They want to rule like a dictatorship and that’s why they threaten those who criticize them. But the Congress party is not scared by such intimidatory tactics of BJP leaders and ministers, and will continue to oppose the BJP for all its wrongs,” he asserted.