Twenty-eight-year-old Nitesh Rane likes to live by the saying, ‘like father, like son’.
A management professional, who studied in the United States of America with older brother, Nilesh, Nitesh returned to India to assist his father Narayan Rane when Rane was planning to quit the Shiv Sena in 2005.
The brothers initially shadowed their father but have now carved out their own political spaces. The father divided work between the two. Nitesh stays in Mumbai and Nilesh takes care of the family’s stronghold, Konkan.
Unlike Nilesh, who won the 2009 Lok Sabha polls from Sindhudurg-Ratnagiri, Nitesh shied away from demanding a ticket for the Assembly polls in October 2009. Instead, he concentrated on his non-governmental organisation Swabhimaan that took up civic issues. Nitesh continued using his business acumen to expand the family’s business.
Nitesh did have his share of personal and political controversies. A member of his organisation, Viral Dholakia, died when the police lathicharged protestors, led by Nitesh, at the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation headquarters last year.
Altercations between Congress activists and the Sainiks continue even now. Earlier this month, Nitesh was at the forefront when his supporters took on Sainiks at Dadar station as the two groups clashed over flagging off a Konkan-bound train.
The state Congress did not approve of Swabhimaan’s growing influence. State Congress president Manikrao Thakre asked the Ranes to give up running a parallel frontal organisation when the party already had the Youth Congress. Warnings did not work and Nitesh quit his post in the city youth Congress unit after disagreements with local leaders. His NGO, with a statewide membership of more than lakh, continues to grow.
With his father’s position within the Congress now comfortable, Nitesh has staked claim to the post of the state youth Congress chief. Thursday’s incident, however, is likely to harm his prospects.
Nilesh defended his brother saying the allegations were one more effort to malign his family. “Nitesh is innocent. This is a political conspiracy against him,” Nilesh told journalists.