'Only those who feel Gujarat is better than Maharashtra can go'
Under fire over his remarks about Gujaratis living in Mumbai, Swabhimaan Sanghatana chief Nitesh Rane today said his statement was not against all Gujaratis, but directed at only those amongst them who felt that Gujarat under Narendra Modi was doing better than Maharashtra
Nitesh, son of senior Congress leader Narayan Rane, said his comments were aimed at those who favoured the Gujarat Chief Minister's development model. "I only said that those who feel Modi is doing a good job can move there," he told reporters.
"My remarks were not aimed at all Gujaratis but only at those who feel there is more development in Gujarat," he said. "I have taken a political stance... I have stated clearly that people living in Mumbai who feel that Gujarat is developing more than us (Maharashtra), or those who feel Modi is developing Gujarat more than us, why don't they go there," Nitesh said. "I didn't say all Gujaratis are like that. I didn't say we will drive (Gujaratis) out (of Mumbai)," he said.
As to his tweet about Gujarati housing societies favouring vegetarian residents, he said, "I said there are many housing societies in Mumbai which don't allow non-vegetarian (people)." "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 had earlier said in his controversial tweeted.
Asked if the remarks had been made by him as a Congress leader, Nitesh said, "I said this as a son of the soil of Maharashtra." When pointed out that he was the son of a senior Congress minister, the 31-year old Nitesh said, "what has that got to do with it". "There are a lot of Gujaratis staying here who have pride in Mumbai and Maharashtra," he said.
"These tweets were posted by me last month," said Nitesh, who in July had also tweeted a crude caricature of a bare-bodied man with a placard over it that read "Hindu Rashtrawadi (nationalist)," said. Accompanying the cartoon was a line written in Marathi, which roughly translated, said: "Good the burqa of development is torn."
The statement was a veiled jibe at two of Modi's recent statements: One in which he said he was a "Hindu nationalist", and another in which he refers to the Congress as "hiding behind the burqa of secularism".