Narayan Rane defends remarks

Special Correspondent

“I have done what I had to do and now it is up to the party to decide”

MUMBAI: Maharashtra Revenue Minister Narayan Rane on Monday defended his outburst in New Delhi against the leadership in the State by saying that he must have said something right.

“Otherwise Congress president Sonia Gandhi would not have met me,” he said in an informal chat with journalists.

Mr. Rane clarified that all he had said was that the government in Maharashtra was not working for the 10 crore people of the State. “When I met Ms. Gandhi, I explained why this was so.” He said he had taken his resignation along with him and told Congress leader Margaret Alva that he was happy to resign. But she refused to accept it, he said.

He was thinking of his next move and was wondering what would be the best step forward, he said. The party had taken note of his views, he felt. “I have done what I had to do and now it is up to the party to decide.”

To questions on his criticism of the government, he said, “there must be a reason why I made these public statements. I will not speak without thinking. I have been in politics for 40 years,” he said. In a lighter vein, he said he had to speak up because journalists were not doing so.

He also kept referring to his statements in New Delhi and how people were calling some of them legally actionable.

He said that he had spoken his mind a number of times and this time he was not really worried about the consequences.

In response to a question, he said that he had not got a call from Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, though he had briefly met him at a function on Sunday, where Ms. Alva was also present.

He was in touch with the Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) president Prabha Rau who is in New Delhi at the moment.

Mr. Rane who campaigned in Gujarat for the Assembly elections, pointed out that in the nine constituencies where he campaigned over four days, the Congress had won six, and in one place Songad, the seat was wrested from the Bharatiya Janata Party .

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