Union Minister Narayan Rane, who was recently inducted into Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s new cabinet, was incensed over what he claimed was Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray ignorance of the year of India’s independence. Rane was arrested hours ago for his incendiary remark and is being currently held at the Sangameshwar police station by the police in the coastal Ratnagiri district. Rane was in the region as part of the BJP’s Jan Ashirwad Yatra.
What did Rane say exactly?
According to Rane, Thackeray allegedly forgot the year of independence during his August 15 address to the people of the state and had to check with his aides midway. Rane’s claim is yet to be verified.
“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 exclaimed during his Jan Ashirwad Yatra in adjoining Raigad district on Monday.
Shiv Sena furious
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 Chembur five decades ago, during his initial stint with the Bal Thackeray-led party. Shiv Sena’s Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg MP Vinayak Raut said Rane has lost his mental balance.
In Pune’s Deccan Gymkhana area, Sena workers slapped posters of Rane with footwear.
In Amravati city in east Maharashtra, 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.
Rane’s residence fortified
Heavy police security was deployed outside Rane’s residence in Mumbai on Tuesday as BJP workers gathered outside his residence on Juhu Tara Road in Santacruz (West) in Mumbai in the morning in support of their party leader.
Besides, Shiv Sena workers, including women, carrying placards and shouting slogans against Rane, assembled outside an office of the Yuva Sena (the party’s youth wing), located nearby in Juhu. A posse of police personnel, including women cops, were deployed outside Rane’s residence to prevent any untoward incident.
Host of FIRs
Following his remarks, a complaint was lodged against Rane by Nashik city Shiv Sena unit chief at the Cyber police station there. Based on the complaint, an FIR was registered against Rane in Nashik under IPC sections 500 (defamation), 505(2) (mischief), 153-B (1)(c) (remarks likely to cause disharmony, or feeling of enmity or hatred or ill-will).
Nashik Police Commissioner Deepak Pandey on Tuesday issued orders for the immediate arrest of Rane after the FIR was registered. Meanwhile, in Aurangabad, Shiv Sena’s spokesperson Ambadas Danve lodged a complaint against Rane at Kranti Chowk police station. FIRs have also been lodged in Pune and Mahad.
BJP-Sena at war
Enraged over a veteran leader’s arrest, the BJP has launched a media blitzkrieg against the Maharashtra government even claiming that there is a threat to Rane’s life. A BJP legislator in Maharashtra claimed on Tuesday. The Sena, meanwhile, said Rane should be given “shock treatment" as he has lost his “balance".
The Union minister was treated roughly by the police, BJP Member of Legislative Council (MLC) Prasad Lad alleged while talking to reporters at Sangameshwar in coastal Ratnagiri district. “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.
“A doctor who did his check-up said Rane is diabetic but he could not check the sugar level. His blood pressure has increased. The current readings are 160/110. The doctor also said they took his ECG and considering he is a diabetes patient, his sugar needs to be checked and he should be hospitalized," the BJP legislator added.
Speaking in Mumbai, Sena leader and minister Gulabrao Patil said Rane “has lost his balance". “He should be taken to Thane and given shock treatment to cure him," Patil said, apparently referring to the state-run mental hospital there. “The action against Rane is appropriate as it sends out a strong message to everyone who uses unparliamentary language against people holding constitutional posts. Rane seems to have forgotten that he was once chief minister of Maharashtra," he further said.
(With PTI inputs)