Rane talks about conspiracy to malign him

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Mumbai, Jun 20 (UNI) Maharashtra Revenue Minister Narayan Rane today alleged that a conspiracy had been hatched by supporters of a top state politician to belittle him in front of Congress President Sonia Gandhi during her meeting with party workers.

''Not one of my supporters was involved in the ruckus at the meeting at Goregoan yesterday and I am ready to face any probe in this regard'', he told reporters at a hurriedly-convened press conference at his office in Mantralaya.

''I cannot take any more insults as the entire incident was stage-managed with an ulterior motive to malign his position in the eyes of Soniaji'', Rane claimed.

Rane claimed that 90 per cent of Congress party MLAs were of the opinion that the present leadership in Maharashtra was not functioning properly. ''They will come out in the open at an opportune time'', he said.

Making startling disclosures about the trouble at the meeting, Rane alleged that from the photographs, published in various newspapers, he could identify a number of persons involved in the fracas. He gave out names of a few workers, close to Youth Congress Leader Sunil Ahire and Corporator Samir Desai.

Incidentally, Desai is a close relative of ex-MRCC president Gurudas Kamat.

He alleged that before the incident at Goregaon, the main culprit Ahire was constantly in touch with the Chief Minister's son Amit Deshmukh.

Rane, who was seated on the dais, said that Deshmukh gave information to Ms Gandhi that his men were raising slogans at the meeting and it was totally wrong on his part to make such comments.

Rane said that ''I have always been loyal to my party's top boss, be it Balasaheb Thackeray when in Sena or Soniaji in Congress.

I can do anything for my leader. But I can not do anything as disgraceful as allowing slogan shouting in her presence''.

A visibly disturbed Rane said ''some people are bent upon showing me in bad light to the High Command whenever my name crops up for Chief Minister's post. Efforts are made to malign me but I will not tolerate this any more''.

He said he had gathered all the newspaper photos and got news channel clips and would meet Ms Gandhi with all the facts. Rane also demanded that the police investigate the matter thoroughly.

When asked about an offending photograph, published in daily 'Saamna', where he was shown wearing a sari, Rane dismissed the Sena mouthpiece as an insignificant newspaper, whose circulation is going down.

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