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 in the afternoon to discuss the Jalyukt Shivar project and distribution of seeds to farmers. When the meeting began, staffers of the Divisional Commissioner’s office served snacks, including sandwiches and wafers. Bhegade and Tapkir started having the food.
Later, when asked about the incident, Tapkir said he and Bhegade “happened to eat by mistake”. “It is a routine to serve snacks at meetings. 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 fasted in support of the cause by joining city MP Anil Shirole.
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 comment.