Shiv Sena MLA comment adds fuel to Rane ‘slap CM’ row
A defiant Union minister Narayan Rane targeted the Maharashtra government on Wednesday over his dramatic arrest as political tensions continued to simmer in the state with the Shiv Sena issuing threats and the Bharatiya Janata Party deciding to move court.
A former Sena leader turned BJP minister, Rane was arrested on Tuesday for saying that he wanted to slap chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, who allegedly forgot the year of India’s independence during a speech. Rane became the first sitting Union minister to be arrested in 20 years but was released on bail late in the night by a court in Raigad district.
On Wednesday, the state government told the Bombay high court that it will not take any “coercive” action against Rane but the minister remained combative.
“I am not afraid of anyone and I am not backing out. My words were an expression of anger against the chief minister who forgot the year of India’s Independence. I only told reporters what he had already said, so how can it be a crime?” he said.
The 69-year-old politician also alleged that Thackeray in the past had said Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath should be hit with sandals. “Thackeray called Union home minister Amit Shah shameless. He even said he was using unparliamentary words deliberately to describe Shah. Why was no action taken then?” Rane asked.
Shiv Sena leader and spokesperson Sachin Ahir said, “The law is equal for all, we do not deny it but Rane has been targeting our party and leadership continuously without any reason for the last two years. Whatever Uddhav ji has been speaking against leaders from BJP has been a reaction to issues pertaining to that particular time. We do not justify the violence by our workers but it’s a reaction to the remarks by Rane. Action has been taken against them as well.”
Rane’s comments had sparked violent clashes across Maharashtra on Tuesday as Sena workers went on a rampage, vandalising some BJP offices. Tempers continued to run high on Wednesday.
The party’s Hingoli legislator Santosh Bangar dared Rane to remove his security and face him. “We have the strength to come and bash you at your house. You keep your police protection aside. I, Santosh Bangar, a Sena activist will come alone and if I don’t remove your guts then I will never take my name again,”Bangar told local channels.
BJP legislator Ram Kadam said the party would like to see the action taken by the Sena-led government. “These are all empty threats but since they are made by the legislator we would like to see what action will be taken against Bangar for threatening a union minister,” said Kadam.
Sena defended Bangar. “Shiv Sainiks are emotional about their chief and Narayan Rane provoked them with such insulting remarks. Its Rane’s fault which is facing such backlash,” said Sena spokesperson Manisha Kayande.
Nitesh, Rane’s younger son and BJP lawmaker, tweeted a video indicating that a befitting reply will be given for the action against his father.
In a speech on Monday, Rane criticised Thackeray for allegedly confusing the number of years since India’s independence during the chief minister’s August 15 address. “It is shameful that the chief minister does not know the year of independence. He leaned back to enquire (with his aides) about the count of years of independence during his speech. Had I been there, I would have given him a slap under his ears,” Rane had said.
On Tuesday afternoon, he was arrested while addressing events as part of the Jan Aashirwad tours being done by newly inducted Union ministers across the country.
On Wednesday, the minister for micro, small and medium enterprises defended his comments and attacked Thackeray.
“Thackeray asked his party workers, on August 1, to give a tight slap to (BJP legislator) Prasad Lad who had threatened to attack Sena Bhavan. Thackeray used derogatory language against Yogi Aadityanath and said that he should be beaten with chappals. He also called Union home minister Amit Shah shameless. Why action was not taken against him and why only against me? Whatever I spoke was out of the anger against Thackeray for him forgetting the year of independence of the country,” said Rane.
He also condemned the violent clashes.
“Sena has no power to beat up any BJP worker or leader. They pet stones from distance. BJP would not allow the violence to take place here in Maharashtra like it happened in West Bengal,” he said, referring to post-poll violence in the eastern state.
The BJP also threatened to move court against Sena leader and transport minister Anil Parab for his purported orders to the police to arrest Rane.
Parab, a close aide of Thackeay, was caught on camera giving instructions to someone--apparently a police officer--to arrest Rane without waiting for an arrest warrant and use force if necessary.
“He asked the police to arrest Rane without warrant. We are moving court to understand in which capacity he was giving orders to the police. We are also moving court against Sena leader and deputy chairman of legislative council Neelam Gorhe for her political statement. The government has been acting with political vengeance by misusing police force,” said Maharashtra BJP chief Chandrakant Patil.
BJP leader and former minister Ashish Shelar demanded a Central Bureau of Investigation probe into Parab’s alleged orders.
“The leaked video clip was shot between 11 and 1pm on Tuesday when the hearing on bail application by Rane in high court and the session court had yet to begin. Despite which he told the IPS officer on other side that the application was rejected. He also orders the officer to arrest union minister by using force. The entire episode is shaky and needs to be investigated by a central agency like CBI,” he said.
BJP’s vice president from Nallasopara, NAME, filed an FIR against Parab.
Neither Sena nor Parab responded to requests for a comment.