Something tells us that we haven’t heard the last of the Narayan Rane saga in Maharashtra politics. The dramatic arrest and midnight bail of the Union minister has widened the rift between former allies and now arch-rivals BJP and Shiv Sena. Meanwhile, unpalatable political comments and indecent actions by both Sena and BJP cadre continued to dominate headlines.
Here’s a wrap on the entire episode, in case you missed out on the political drama.
What triggered the ugly exchange?
Rane had slammed Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray alleging that the Sena leader had forgotten what year India earned its Independence during his I-Day speech.
“It is shameful that the chief minister does not know the year of independence. He leaned back to enquire about the count of years of independence during his speech. Had I been there, I would have given (him) a tight slap,” Rane had said in Raigad district on Monday.
Rane’s remarks drew sharp reactions from Shiv Sena, whose workers put several posters in Mumbai and other places, calling him a kombdi chor’ (chicken stealer), a reference to the poultry shop he ran in Mumbai’s Chembur area five decades ago, during the initial part of his over four-decade stint with the Bal Thackeray-led party.
Who said what?
Rane defended his remarks against Thackeray, saying he hasn’t committed any crime. The BJP leader’s MLA son Nitesh Rane tweeted a video from a Bollywood movie, hinting at retribution. Nitesh Rane posted a clip on his Twitter handle from the film “Rajneeti”, where a character played by actor Manoj Bajpayee says, “Those who spit up in the air should know that it would fall on their face only. There will be a strong reply.”
Maharashtra BJP president Chandrakant Patil on Tuesday distanced himself from Union minister Narayan Rane’s remarks against Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, while Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis said the BJP does not support Rane’s comments, but the way he has been targeted, the “party stands behind him 100 per cent”. I am not defending Rane’s comments, but I will also not express regret,” Patil told a regional news channel.
Meanwhile, BJP legislator Prasad Lad alleged that there was a threat to Rane’s life adding that the police pushed him and arrested while he was in the middle of a meal.
“Police pushed Rane while he was having his lunch. He is nearly 70. Should a person of such age be treated like this? We feel there is a threat to his life,” Lad said.
However, NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik claimed the BJP was trying disturb the harmony in Maharashtra, and said “there will be repercussions” if a person makes controversial remarks. “The state will not accept this kind of language. Rane has not only insulted CM Thackeray, but also the people of this state. If a person makes controversial remarks, there will be repercussions, said Malik, whose party shares power with the Shiv Sena and Congress in Maharashtra. Sharad Pawar also reacted to the ugly spat between ruling and opposition parties. He said, “I do not want to get into this matter. He is acting as per his Sanskar (values imbibed during formative years).”
State minister and Shiv Sena leader Gulabrao Patil, meanwhile, said Rane should be given “shock treatment” as he has lost his “balance”. Sena mouthpiece Saamana said that Rane’s remarks had embarrassed the Centre. “He has been behaving like a “roadside gangster”, it alleged.
“Rane has made the central government hang its head in shame. Given Rane’s past record, Modi-Shah should take his comments against Thackeray seriously. If anybody had spoken in this manner about the prime Minister, he would have been booked under sedition charges. Rane’s crime is similar,” the editorial said.
What’s the status of the case?
A court in Mahad, Maharashtra, while granting bail to Union minister Narayan Rane said his arrest over his controversial remarks against Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray was justified, but his custodial interrogation was not necessary.
More recently, the Nashik Police has issued a notice to Rane, asking him to appear before them for questioning on 2 September in connection with an FIR registered against him over his remarks against Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, an official said on Wednesday.
As per the notice, Rane has been directed to remain present before the investigation officer – police inspector Ananda Wagh – at 12 pm on 2 September at the Cyber police station in Nashik city, located about 160 km from here, he said.
The notice was issued under Section 41 of the CrPC, the official said.
As per the notice, Rane has been directed not to commit any offence in future and not tamper with the evidence (in the case) in any manner whatsoever.
Rane also has been directed to join the investigation as and when required and cooperate in probe into the case, he said.
Rane has also approached the Bombay High Court, challenging the FIRs registered against him. However, the matter is yet to come up for hearing as the bench had refused an expedited hearing.
Soda bottles thrown, stones hurled as Sena, BJP cadre clash
Activists of Shiv Sena and its youth wing staged protests in various cities across Maharashtra against Rane. In Pune’s Deccan Gymkhana area, Sena workers slapped posters of Rane with footwear. Yuva Sena workers staged a demonstration in Hadapsar. A stone was hurled at a mall located on JM Road in Pune, a police official said.
In Amravati, Sena workers vandalised the BJP office located in the Rajapeth area and also set various posters installed in front of the office on fire in protest against Rane’s remarks. No BJP office-bearer or party worker was present in the office at the time of the incident.
Sena activists poured petrol, brought by them in bottles, on the posters installed outside the office and set them afire around noon. They also hurled stones at the office.
Unidentified persons hurled soda water bottles at Shiv Sena MP Vinayak Raut’s bungalow at Malvan in Maharashtra’s Sindhudurg district.
Notably, Raut on Tuesday wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, demanding sacking of Union minister Narayan Rane over his remarks against Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.
With inputs from agencies