Maharashtra Congress minister Narayan Rane’s son, Nitesh Rane, has defended his controversial tweet that Gujaratis living in Mumbai, who believe that Gujarat under Narendra Modi is doing better than Maharashtra, should move to the neighbouring state.
Nitesh had tweeted: “Veg skies, Veg hospitals, Veg housing societies. Soon Veg Mumbai! Either Gujjus go back to Gujarat or they turn Mumbai into Gujarat... Red alert.”
Nitesh, who heads a youth organisation, Swabhimaan Sangathana, said his statement was political in nature, not racist, and his target was Modi who made false claims of development in Gujarat.
“I’m not against all Gujaratis but my statement was directed only at those among them who felt that Modi’s Gujarat was better than Maharashtra,” he told mediapersons here on Saturday.
The youth leader had come under fire for his tweet from the BJP, which has a major vote bank among Mumbai’s Gujarati populace. The BJP raised the matter in the legislative council, saying the tweet was communal and tried to divide a peaceful society.
Raising the issue in the Upper House, BJP leader Ashish Shelar said, “The statement would create religious and social conflict in the metropolis. The statement is derogatory towards Modi and Gujarati-speaking people.”
Congress leader Satyavrat Chaturvedi said Nitesh’s tweets have no importance.
Dismissing the BJP’s charge, Nitesh said, “I didn’t say all Gujaratis are the same. There are many who are proud of staying in a progressive Maharashtra. I didn’t say I want all of them to shift to Gujarat.”
Nitesh reiterated his stand on all-Gujarati societies favouring vegetarian residents. “Many people have said this before. Even a Shiv Sena member of the legislature wanted to bring a bill to check this practice.”
Nitesh said he tweeted in his individual capacity and not as a Congressman. “I started a debate on a sensitive issue. I said this as a son of the soil of Maharashtra.”