Amidst the speculation that he may be arrested over the remarks against the chief minister, Union Minister Narayan Rane said that he has no information that an FIR has been registered against him and he is not a common man.
"I've no information that an FIR has been registered against me. I am not a common man. I have not committed any crime. Is it not a crime if someone doesn't know about 15th August? I had said that I would have slapped - these were the words and it's not a crime," Union Minister Narayan Rane was quoted as saying by ANI.
Meanwhile, Maharashtra BJP president Chandrakant Patil on Tuesday distanced himself from Union minister Narayan Rane's remarks about slapping Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray for what he claimed as the latter's ignorance of the year of India's independence.
"I am not defending Rane's comments, but I will also not express regret," Patil told a regional news channel.
Patil wondered how a state could plan to arrest a Union minister. "Is there no administrative procedure?" he asked.
"People who are pointing fingers at Rane should not forget that there have been several instances of Uddhav Thackeray using inflammatory language," the BJP leader said.
On Monday, during his 'Jan Ashirwad Yatra' in adjoining Raigad district, Rane said, "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." The BJP leader and former Shiv Sena chief minister claimed Thackeray forgot the year of independence during his August 15 address to the people of the state. Thackeray had to check the year of independence with his aides midway during the speech that day, Rane said Mumbai BJP MLA Ram Kadam defended the Union minister and said, "Rane is known for his aggressiveness. There could be a difference of opinion over his choice of words." He alleged that from the day of commencement of the Jan Ashirwad Yatra, the Thackeray-led Maharashtra government was trying to misuse power and hinder Rane's rally.
"This is cheating by the state government. The state government is scared because of the massive response garnered by his rally," the legislator told a news channel.
He also claimed that Thackeray as CM had earlier made controversial statements and also used inflammatory language. "However, it was conveniently ignored by people as well as the state machinery," Kadam said.
BJP leader Pramod Jathar, who is co-ordinating Rane's yatra in Ratnagiri district, said, "Rane's language is similar to that of late Balasaheb Thackeray (the founder of Shiv Sena). The Jan Ashirwad Yatra will continue for sure." Asked about Rane's remarks, he said, "CM Thackeray forgetting the year of independence is more insulting. Rane only expressed feelings of the common man." 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.
He also claimed that the BJP was trying to do politics, "like it did in West Bengal by inciting violence".
"The BJP must understand that Maharashtra will not get into it," he added.
Meanwhile, a case has been registered against Rane at Chatushringi police station in Pune over his remarks.
Pune's Deputy Commissioner of Police Mitesh Ghatte said, "An offence has been registered against Rane under IPC Sections 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot) and 505 ( statements conducing to public mischief), following a complaint by an office-bearer of the Yuva Sena (the Shiv Sena's youth wing."
(With inputs from agencies)
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