NAGPUR: Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam landed himself in a controversy with his statement that the metropolis would come to a halt and the people won't even get food if the North Indians decide to stop working.
Nirupam had made the statement at a function in Maharashtra's Nagpur city on Sunday.
He had added that the North Indian community should not be forced to take such a drastic step, and that they have always expressed gratitude towards Mumbai and Maharashtra.
"It is the north Indian community which runs the lives, and shoulders the burden of the people of Mumbai. If the community decides to stop work for a day, life in Mumbai will come to a standstill. None will get roti (bread), vegetables, milk and auto, taxi, truck and tempo (services). It happens sometimes, but it should not be done. (The community) should not be forced to take such a step," he had said.
On Monday morning, the Congress leader tweeted that North Indians are being targeted in Prime Minister's Gujarat. "But he must remember that one day he too will have to go to Varanasi to seek votes."
Soon, Raj Thackeray's Maharashtra Navnirman Sena put out posters depicting Nirupam as a 'dog' who needs to be driven out of Maharashtra.
Union minister Ramdas Athawale tried to tone down the issue saying that while the contributions of North Indians in development of Mumbai and Maharashtra can't be ignored, Nirupam's statement won't help the Congress in elections.
"Nirupam is trying to divide the community on linguistic lines. However, that won't help the Congress and on the other hand it might have to fact the backlash," Athawale said.