Mumbai: First-term Congress MLA Nitesh Rane has stirred a controversy with remarks that he wants to begin Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'Clean India' campaign from Mumbai by "cleaning" the city of Gujaratis, drawing condemnation from BJP for playing "abusive" politics.
His own party too called it "reprehensible" and "completely inappropriate", while distancing itself from his comments.
"Wanna take part in Swacha Bharat abhiyan n start from mumbai!! Wanna start cleaning up all the Marathi hating gujjus from there once for all," Rane posted on Twitter on Wednesday.
As his remark triggered an outrage, an unfazed Nitesh, son of senior Congress leader Narayan Rane, defended his tweet, saying "In Mumbai, Marathis don't get accommodation of their choice because they are Marathis and non-vegetarian.
"If this continues to happen, we will have to do this cleaning-up," he said on Thursday. Rane's remarks attracted criticism from BJP whose national spokesman Sambit Patra said "it is because of such kind of mentality that people of Maharashtra and Haryana have voted against Congress.
"If such be the thought process of Congress and its leaders, then I fear Congress will be wiped out throughout the country and we will have a Congress-mukt Bharat," he said.
BJP's Maharashtra unit treasurer Shaina N C too slammed Nitesh whom he described as "a symbol of abusive politics".
"The time has come for us as a state to realise and give back in a way which is befitting to people who are nothing but trouble-mongers, who always play a divisive card," she said.
Congress too reacted strongly to the Kankavli MLA's anti-Gujarati rant. "From what I have seen on Twitter, I can say it is reprehensible. It is completely inappropriate," Congress' national spokesman Sanjay Jha said.
Asked if the party was contemplating any action against Nitesh, he said "if any advisory has to be given, state and central leadership will take a call."
Maharashtra Congress president Manikrao Thakre also disapproved of the MLA's comments. "Congress disapproves such comments. I will speak to Nitesh but this is not the party view," he said.