Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan has rejected the Shiv Sena’s charge that AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi insulted the martyrs of the Mumbai attack by commenting that the city was saved by NSG commandos from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and other States.

“I fully endorse Rahul Gandhi’s stand that during the 26/11 attacks, people from all over the country fought to save Mumbai. When it comes to fighting for the nation, there is no issue of regionalism,” Mr. Chavan told reporters at Mantralaya on Tuesday.

Mr. Chavan said Mr. Gandhi’s views focussed on the unity of the country. “Mumbai is for all and the country is also for all… There is no discrimination. Everyone should get equal opportunities. However, the MNS [Maharashtra Navnirman Sena] and the Shiv Sena are playing divisive politics over language and region,” he said.

“The Sena and the MNS have no developmental issues… that is why they are fighting on this.”

Addressing a press conference in Patna on Tuesday, Mr. Gandhi asserted that India was for all Indians and people had a right to go anywhere.

“I am really not interested in what Bal Thackeray or Raj Thackeray has to say. Frankly, I am interested in one concept that India belongs to Indians and every part of India belongs to every Indian,” he said.

“People have a right to go anywhere. I am not going to remain silent and stop people of U.P. and Bihar from going to Maharashtra.”

“In Mumbai [during the 26/11 attacks], men in the NSG were from Bihar, U.P., Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh and Maharashtra. At that time they [Sena] did not say that those from Bihar and U.P. should be taken out. India has to move forward and all have to be taken forward,” he said.

On the campaign that people hailing from U.P. and Bihar had no place in the State, he said: “Those who indulge in violence will be dealt with strictly by the Maharashtra government. Strict action will be taken and action is being taken,” he said. “We do not tolerate this kind of stuff.”

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