On a day when BJP MPs, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, were holding a one-day fast across the country to protest the washout of Parliament’s budget session, two BJP MLAs — Bala Bhegade and Bhimrao Tapkir — were seen having food at a meeting of legislators called by Guardian Minister Girish Bapat in Pune on Thursday.
Bapat had called a meeting of Pune district MLAs at the Council Hall on Thursday afternoon to discuss the ongoing work on the Jalyukt Shivar project and distribution of seeds to farmers. The meeting was also attended by officers of the district administration. As soon as the meeting began, staffers of the Divisional Commissioner’s office served snacks, which included sandwich and wafers. To the surprise of many of the attendees, Bhegade and Tapkir started having the food. Later, when quizzed about the incident, Tapkir said he and Bhegade “happened to eat by mistake”.
“It is a routine to serve snacks during the meeting. So, when the snacks arrived, we happened to eat them while the discussions were on,” he said.
Tapkir said the fast was not for BJP MLAs, but he held the fast in support of the cause by joining city MP Anil Shirole.”I had met the MP in the morning and joined him for the fast. Then I had to attend the meeting, so I headed to the Council Hall… later, I was again supposed to join Shirole till the end of the fast,” he said.
The MLA said he decided to stay away from other BJP leaders, including Shirole, who were fasting at a venue on J M Road in order to avoid further controversy. “If I had to cheat, then I would have eaten in a closed room. But the incident took place in a room with legislators and officers of the Pune collectorate,” said Tapkir.
Guardian Minister Girish Bapat also said the MLAs ate the food by mistake. “The legislators had no intention of having food when others were fasting,” he said. Bhegade was unavailable for comments.