New Delhi: Bharatiya Janata Party legislator (MLC) Gopichand Padalkar sparked a row on Wednesday after he called Nationalist Congress Party President Sharad Pawar “Coronavirus for Maharashtra”. Attacking Pawar, the BJP MLC accused him of playing casteist-cum-divisive politics and said “he is the Coronavirus” which has afflicted the state. Also Read - International Flights: Air India to Operate 36 Flights Between India And US From July 11-19 Under Vande Bharat Mission | Check Details

He accused the veteran NCP leader of allegedly denying reservations to the Dhangar community and instead politicizing the issue. Also Read - Ahmedabad: 19 New Micro-containment Zones Identified | Total Contained Areas Rise to 99

“Sharad Pawar is coronavirus for Maharashtra. He has been leading the state for many years but he has only oppressed ‘Bahujan’ people. I am sure that he will continue this in the future too,” Gopichand Padalkar said. Also Read - Use TrueNat machines, Increase Testing Capacity: UP CM Adityanath Orders Containment Plan For Gautam Buddh Nagar, Ghaziabad

Padalkar’s comments took even the BJP by surprise, with Fadnavis along with Leader of Opposition (Council) Pravin Darekar condemning the statement of Padalkar.

Meanwhile, NCP activists staged protests and raised slogans against Padalkar in Mumbai, Pune, Nashik, and in Beed they burnt his effigy, while a protest was announced in Pune on Thursday in support of the 79-year old NCP chief.

Hitting back, NCP spokesperson Mahesh Tapase labelled Padalkar as “a party-hopper who is affected by a mental bug”.

“The man who was begging to join the NCP, and was abusing (PM) Narendra Modi later went and got a ticket from the BJP”, so what was his locus-standi to attack Pawar in such derogatory terms,” Tapase said.