Maharashtra may have become the first state to pass a legislation against superstition, but this has not deterred its politicians and their minions from indulging in public displays of their blind faith.
Labour minister and NCP leader Hasan Mushrif, was bathed in milk by his workers on Friday, supposedly as an antidote to his being smeared with ink by an office-bearer of the NCP disabled persons cell Namdeo Dongardive in Buldhana a day ago.
Mushrif, a former acolyte of independent MP from Kolhapur and NCP rebel Sadashivrao Mandlik, is an MLA from Kagal in the district.
This happened in Kolhapur, which, apart from its reputation as the Mecca of kushti (wrestling), also boasts of the progressive legacy of Chatrapati ‘Rajarshi’ Shahu Maharaj, a descendant of Chatrapati Shivaji, who campaigned against religious obscurantism and caste oppression and introduced reservations for backward castes in 1902.
However, Mushrif claimed innocence about the act, which he claimed had been forced on him by his overzealous supporters. After the news broke on the media leading to outrage, Mushrif apologised to the people of the state for the action of his men and said the errant workers would be taken to task.
The act of ‘cleansing’ comes in the wake of the recent hike in the retail prices of milk.
Mushrif said he had alighted at the Kolhapur railway station when the workers, who were angered at the ink being thrown on him, bathed him in milk regardless of his opposition. “I asked them to not be emotional,” Mushrif said in his defence, adding that things had gone out of his hand.