Maharashtra Forest Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar on Friday said that he would not hold alliance talks with Bharatiya Janata Party ally Shiv Sena after facing criticism regarding the killing of a tigress in Yavatmal district, PTI reported. Mungantiwar said he expressed his disappointment over the Shiv Sena’s criticism to party chief Uddhav Thackeray.
The BJP leader was reportedly always in favour of an alliance with the Shiv Sena, even when the saffron party was not keen on the idea. “I did not expect this from him, especially when I considered him a good friend,” PTI reported him as saying. “He indulged in cheap criticism of the episode. I am no more willing to hold alliance talks with him now… I was deeply upset. People used abusive language against me. I felt upset when I saw my family in distress reading such messages.” Mungantiwar also claimed that he spoke to Thackeray on the advice of Union minister Maneka Gandhi, who had also criticised him for the tigress, Avni’s, killing.
The Shiv Sena on November 13 had asked for a judicial probe into the tigress’ shooting. This came after two post-mortem reports contradicted the forest department and hunter’s versions of the killing.
The minister and state government were severely criticised by many for the manner in which the animal was killed on the night of November 2. The six-year old tigress, who had two cubs, had allegedly claimed at least 13 lives in Ralegaon forest since June 2016. While officials said she was killed in self-defence, the autopsy report suggested she had been shot from the side, when she was facing away from the hunter. There was no sign of tranquilisers in her blood flow either.
The two cubs have yet to be located and rehabilitated.