Senior CPI leader Govind Pansare, who led a campaign against road toll tax, and his wife were shot at by motorcycle-borne assailants near their house, prompting widespread condemnation of the incident.
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and NCP chief Sharad Pawar were among the first to condemn the attack on Pansar, who was at the forefront of a recent anti-toll agitation in Kolhapur.
The assailants fired at Pansare and his wife on Monday morning outside the Ideal Housing Society at Kolhapur, when the couple was returning after their daily morning walk from Shivaji University.
While Pansare was hit by bullets on the nape of his neck and another brushing his hand, his wife Sau Uma Pansare suffered a single bullet injury, said Kolhapur Superintendent of Police, Omprakash Sharma.
They were rushed to Aster Aadhar Hospital in Kolhapur.
Pansare is said to be in a critical condition while his wife is out of danger, the police said.
Condemning the incident, Pawar said, “This attack is a matter of concern for a progressive state like Maharashtra.” Fadnavis said ten police teams have been formed to nab the culprits.
NCP Lok Sabha member Supriya Sule said the government must take strong action to stop such “cowardly acts.” Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray spoke to the Chief Minister, demanding that the assailants be nabbed.
Leader of Opposition in Maharashtra Assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil sought dismissal of the state police chief, saying he was not competent enough to tackle the law and order situation.
“The state needs a full-time Home minister,” he said. The portfolio is held by Fadnavis.
Later, Minister of State for Home Ram Shinde left for Kolhapur to take stock of the incident.
Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh leader Prakash Ambedkar warned that there would be retaliation from people if the government does not take strong action against those trying to suppress the liberal and progressive views.
Sadanand More, president of the Akhbil Bhartiya Marathi Sahitya Sammelan-2015, said the attack was an attempt to stop the liberal and progressive views.
“The kind of atmosphere prevailing in Maharashtra is vitiating,” More said.
The CPI(M) has given a state-wide protest call against the attack.
Shiv Sena leader and Union Minister Anant Geete condemned the attack on Pansare and said it was a “challenge” for the state government.
“We Condemn-senior CPI leader Govind Rao Pansare shot at in Kohlapur-Maharashtra, where he was leading a campaign against toll tax!,” Congress leader Ajay Maken tweeted.
Condemning the incident, CPI (M) Politburo member Sitaram Yechury said such incidents are “becoming a sort of a routine matter” in Maharashtra.
“Yes, he was leading an agitation of Left parties against toll taxes…that has been a very popular and a very big agitation and surely there are vested interests who would lose because of this. They may be targeting.
“Also he has written a very popular book on projection of Shivaji and what actually the history was and how these are being used by all these Hindu communal outfits mainly Shiv Sena and the BJP. So that could also be one of the reasons,” Yechury said.
“So whatever be the actual reasons, proper investigation has to be done,” he said. He said the CPI (M) has given a state-wide protest call against the attack.