Rane's tweets: Is Maha Congress worried about Narendra Modi?

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Mumbai, Aug 4: The Maharashtra government has been left red-faced by Nitesh Rane's unrelenting tweets, first against author Shobhaa De and then the Gujarati community. The state government has been compelled to begin a probe into the controversial tweets posted by the 31-year-old son of the state industries minister and former Maharashtra chief minister Narayan Rane.

State home minister R R Patil, who belongs to the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), said they would look into the matter for it was illegal to make such tweets.

Rane had slammed author De for tweeting her thought on whether Mumbai and Maharashtra could also be isolated after the Telangana call and soon after, he asked the Gujarati residents of Maharashtra who admired Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi to go back to their home state and 'make way for the Marathis'. Rane was referring to his earlier tweet on Gujarati housing societies favouring vegetarian residents, which had caused a major controversy.

Rane defended himself by saying that he was not against all Gujaratis but only those who felt that there is more development in Gujarat than in Maharashtra.

The state Congress chief, Manikrao Thakre, said such comments can not be supported. The Congress leadership in Maharashtra has clearly been embarrassed by Rane's tweets but why did he suddenly went on the offensive?

Rane's act reflects the Congress's growing apprehension with Narendra Modi. The latter has been visiting Maharashtra and Mumbai ever since his elevation in the BJP ranks and recent reports have said that the man is trying to bring together the Thackeray cousins, the Shiv Sena and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), to ensure that the anti-Congress votes in the state do not get divided and the NDA suffers yet again, as it had in the 2009 assembly polls.

This reason is more than adequate to rattle the state Congress leadership for Maharashtra is one of those few big states where the Congress hopes to keep things under its control in the next Lok Sabha polls (the next assembly polls are also scheduled in 2014) and a probable BJP-Sena-MNS alliance ahead of the big fight could jeopardise the ruling party's hopes.

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So, it is easier to retaliate by raising the same voice of sub-nationalism that both the Senas often do. But unlike the north Indians who the Senas often target, attacking the Gujarati community would not get much success for the community is economically strong and shares an old link with Maharashtra.

Moreover, the Gujaratis have a strong leader like Modi and by targetting them, Rane will only harm his father's party more by sending wrong political signals across the spectrum.

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