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A tweet by celebrity writer Shobhaa De on the possibility of Mumbai being separated from the state on the lines of Telangana had the unintended effect of bringing the political class together as parties took turns in snubbing her.
De’s tweet on Wednesday read: ‘Maharashtra and Mumbai??? Why not? Mumbai has always fancied itself as an independent entity, anyway. This game has countless possibilities’.
What followed was an immediate and bitter reaction, with some leaders demanding that she be punished for the comment.
Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray, who De has supported in the past, said: “Does she think creating a state like that is easy? It is not like taking a divorce, and she should understand that.”
Shiv Sena spokesperson and MP Sanjay Raut said: “There are people like her who have started a campaign for a separate Mumbai. This cannot be tolerated. The state government should step in and punish her for this provocative statement," he said.
BJP Mumbai unit chief Ashish Shelar raised a point of information in the legislative council over De's comment, and said: "I respect her freedom of expression. However, the state is an institution and Maharashtra is made up of a group of cities. It should be remembered that 105 martyrs gave their lives to ensure Mumbai stays with Maharashtra, so this comment is uncalled for. The state should initiate action against her."
NCP legislator and spokesperson J Awhad said that De's comment shows she has gone insane.
While speaking to the media, De said she had been misunderstood and insisted the tweet was satirical. “I was only trying to say how, with elections around the corner, many parties would take advantage of narrow interests. Mumbai as a state was an idea that was mooted many years ago,” she said. Reacting to Thackeray, De said: “He is a cartoonist and understands satire, and his comments should be taken as seriously as his cartoons.”