MUMBAI: Celebrity author Shobhaa De has refused to apologise for her tweet on the possibility of Mumbai being separated from the state on the lines of Telangana, saying that there is no question of tendering an apology for a tweet that is harmless and innocent.
De's tweet on Wednesday read: 'Maharashtra and Mumbai??? Why not? Mumbai has always fancied itself as an independent entity, anyway. This game has countless possibilities'.
Defending her tweet, De said: 'I was only trying to say how, with elections around the corner, many parties would take advantage of narrow interests. Mumbai as a state was an idea that was mooted many years ago.'
Speaking to IBN-LIVE, De said: 'I am absolutely astonished by this reaction and if you want to take on someone take them on on what the content of that tweet is and when you descend to make personal comments, it does not refelect on me, it reflects on the person making them. So I am going to ignore it.'
Reacting to Thackeray, De said: "He is a cartoonist and understands satire, and his comments should be taken as seriously as his cartoons."
The tweet has left Shiv Sena and the MNS outraged.
An angry congressman from Mumbai, Nitesh Rane has gone to the extent to tweet: 'Rather than twitter, Shoba De shud say the same thing on the streets of Mumbai openly after which she won't be left with any 'shoba' forever'.
A protester speaking CNN-IBN said: 'What Shobhaa De has said is wrong. Here we are talking about a united Maharashtra and on the other hand she is talking about dividing it. She must apologise.'
What followed was an immediate and bitter reaction, with some leaders cutting across parties demanding that she be punished for the comment.
Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray, who De has supported in the past, said: "Does she think creating a state like that is easy? It is not like taking a divorce, and she should understand that."
Shiv Sena spokesperson and MP Sanjay Raut said: "There are people like her who have started a campaign for a separate Mumbai. This cannot be tolerated. The state government should step in and punish her for this provocative statement," he said.
BJP Mumbai unit chief Ashish Shelar raised a point of information in the legislative council over De's comment, and said: "I respect her freedom of expression. However, the state is an institution and Maharashtra is made up of a group of cities. It should be remembered that 105 martyrs gave their lives to ensure Mumbai stays with Maharashtra, so this comment is uncalled for. The state should initiate action against her."
NCP legislator and spokesperson J Awhad said that De's comment shows she has gone insane. (Agencies)