An unfazed Shobhaa De on Thursday ruled out an apology for her comments on making Mumbai an 'independent' entity in Maharashtra over which Maharashtra’s political parties unleashed a vitriolic attack on the celebrated writer.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, meanwhile, termed the socialite's tweet that there are "countless possibilities" for statehood for Mumbai as "frivolous", and asserted that the state will remain united.
"The comments are frivolous and shouldn't be taken seriously... Neither Mumbai nor Vidarbha will be separated from Maharashtra," the chief minister said in Mumbai.
"Unity is our strength," he added.
Asserting that she is not feeling intimidated, De said she will not apologize for her tweet and that she was "absolutely astonished" by the political storm triggered by her comments.
"I have not said something offensive. There is no question of apology," she said in Kolkata.
De said she was not regretting what she had tweeted. "I will continue to tweet on Mumbai being an independent entity. India is a democratic country, everybody has their right to raise their voices against the wrongs," she added.
"Maharashtra and Mumbai??? Why not? Mumbai has always fancied itself as an independent entity, anyway. This game has countless possibilities," De had tweeted in the aftermath of bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh to carve out a separate Telangana state for which a decision was announced by Congress and UPA on Tuesday.
"This (her tweet) is something which has to be strenuously defended and am happy to break the silence and I am not feeling intimidated. "I am also happy about the public support which I have received (for the tweet) and the Mumbai police has been very proactive in this regard", De told reporters on the sidelines of a FICCI Ladies Organisation (FLO) event in Kolkata.
Shiv Sena activists also held protests outside De's house in South Mumbai.
Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut demanded criminal action against De while Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray launched a personal attack against the columnist.
The tweet raised hackles of Shiv Sena and Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS). While Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut demanded criminal action against De, Raj Thackeray launched a personal attack against the noted columnist.
Asked to comment whether the move to create the Telangana state was a case of political opportunism, De said "It is not that, but definitely the timing is suspect".
"It is worrisome that India will see very ugly elections. There is an attempt all over the country to kill and suppress the voice of dissent. We must resist that. All politicians should be watched and monitored by all and sundry and one should speak up fearlessly," she said.
To a query, she said divisive attempts by interest groups as seen in the demand for a number of states would make the country weak. "However, all demands for separate states should not be put in the same bracket".