‘Narayan Rane sending feelers to Shiv Sena, Uddhav Thackeray not keen to take him back’
Rane, once an ordinary party worker, rose through the ranks and was made chief minister of the Sena-BJP government in 1999 by Bal Thackeraymumbai Updated: Apr 10, 2017 13:51 IST
Congress leader Narayan Rane’s speech in praise of Shiv Sena founder, the late Bal Thackeray, at a function on Sunday has led to speculation that the leader wants to return to the Shiv Sena and is currently sending feelers to the party’s leaders.
Speaking at his 65th birthday celebration, Rane said he owes his political achievements to Thackeray.
“No one displayed the trust in me that Bal did. No matter which party I work for, I will always hold him in high regard,” said the senior Congress leader. “Bal has made me the person I am today,” he added.
Rane said Thackeray prompted him to contest the assembly polls when he was thinking of running for the post of Mumbai mayor. He added that this incident changed his life.
His statement is being seen as an indicator that he wants to rejoin the Shiv Sena. For the past few weeks, there have been speculations that Rane has reached out to leaders of both ruling parties, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Shiv Sena.
While the BJP has shown a willingness to take him on-board, it is the Sena which has not responded positively. Sources said Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, who Rane had targeted when he quit the party in 2005, is not keen to take him back.
Rane’s area of influence is the Konkan , where he faces threats from the Shiv Sena, which has become aggressive in the state’s coastal region. Rane lost the 2014 assembly polls, while his elder son Nilesh lost the lok sabha polls from Konkan. His younger son is a sitting MLA from the region.
Rane, once an ordinary party worker, rose through the ranks and was made chief minister of the Sena-BJP government in 1999 by Bal Thackeray. He became the Opposition leader after the saffron allies lost power in the same year. Rane later quit the Shiv Sena to join the Congress, taking a chunk of the party’s MLAs with him. He later launched a vicious campaign against the Thackerays.
Rane remained a minister in successive Congress governments till 2014. Ironically, he had even targeted Congress leaders in 2008, when he was not given the chief minister’s post after Vilasrao Deshmukh resigned in the wake of the 26/11 terror attack.
Earlier this year, Rane came under the scanner of the enforcement directorate, which is investigating how a prominent builder funded the construction of a luxury skyscraper in south central Mumbai. BJP MP Kirit Somaiya made several allegations against Rane and demanded a probe into his assets.
Meanwhile, senior BJP minister Nitin Gadkari also lauded the senior Congress leader. “We have worked together as Opposition leaders. Despite not coming from a political background, Rane has made a name for himself in Mumbai. He is a self-made man in state politics,” the Union transport minister said at Rane’s birthday celebration.
“Rane has proved that his leadership goes beyond a particular political party. The state’s politics would have gone a different route had he had not quit the Shiv Sena,” Gadkari said.
For past few days, Rane has been publicly criticising the state Congress leadership, following the party’s defeat in the municipal and district council polls in Maharashtra. His elder son and former MP Nilesh resigned from the party and is currently campaigning for Ashok Chavan to be ousted as state Congress chief.