Congress MLA Alpesh Thakor, who is facing heat over the violence against hindi-speaking migrants in Gujarat, began his day-long fast here Thursday to promote "peace and harmony" among people.
While admitting that "someone may have said something" against migrants, he claimed that the real culprits were those who politicised the entire issue.
Since the rape of a 14-month-old girl in Sabarkantha district on September 28 and the arrest of a labourer hailing from Bihar for the crime, six districts in Gujarat saw sporadic incidents of violence against hindi-speaking people.
In his address at the 'Sadbhavna Upvas' (fast for goodwill) venue near his residence in Ranip area, Thakor asserted he never indulged in spreading hatred.
"I am not at all into spreading hatred. I am not that kind of person. We (Thakor community) are pure at heart. It is possible that someone may have said something (against migrants), but we do not harbour any grudge against anyone. We never indulge in violence," the Congress MLA said.
"We all need to make sure that Gujarat's image does not get tarnished. No one is migrant... the word itself is wrong. I think some people are politicising the issue. This is an attempt to break the country. Dividing people in the name of states is something I or my people will never do," he said.
Earlier, following the rape of the 14-month-old girl, Thakor had publicly blamed a "non-Gujarati" for the crime.
Referring to the incident, the MLA from Radhanpur constituency on Thursday claimed that he and his people were branded "anti-nationals" for demanding justice for the girl.
"I will never allow this poison of division to spread among people in Gujarat... I think such incidents are part of a conspiracy to malign Gujarat's image. This is a conspiracy to create enmity among poor people," he said.
"We only demanded justice for the 14-month old girl. But, we were labelled as anti-nationals. We are not like that. We may have committed some mistakes, but we are not those who harass poor people. Ultimately, we all are Indians. Stop maligning our image," Thokar said.
Although police have arrested several members of the Thakor Sena in connection with the attacks on hindi-speaking people and also named the outfit in some of the FIRs, the Congress legislator claimed that police were harassing "innocent" youths from his community.
"It is the state government's responsibility to arrest people if they are involved. But, at least do not politicise the issue. We are not culprits. Many innocent Thakor youths are wrongfully arrested," he alleged.
Before starting his fast Thakor visited the Sabarmati Ashram and paid tributes to Mahatma Gandhi.
Thakor told reporters that he will visit other states to spread the message of peace and harmony and urged the members of his community to invite migrants at their homes or visit them to build an atmosphere of trust.
Congress MLA was caught in a controversy after a video went viral in which he was purportedly seen speaking against migrant workers.
Authorities said on Wednesday that the number of hindi-speaking migrant workers leaving Gujarat has come down after they were reassured about their safety in the state.
Police and district officials held meetings with migrant workers and factory owners at several places and told them that they need not worry about their safety.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)