Union minister Narayan Rane has sparked off a row over his remarks about slapping Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray for what he claimed as the latter's ignorance of the year of India's independence.
The statement by Rane has drawn ire of Shiv Sena and at least theree FIRs were also resgistered against him in Pune, Nashik and Mahad.
What did Rane exactly say?
Rane, who was recently inducted into the Union cabinet, had sparked off a row over his remarks about slapping Chief Minister and Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray, for what he claimed as the latter's ignorance of the year of India's independence.
"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 said during his Jan Ashirwad Yatra in adjoining Raigad district on Monday.
How did Shiv Sena react?
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. Th workers clashed with BJP workers there.
A posse of police personnel, including women cops, were deployed outside Rane's residence to prevent any untoward incident, the official said.
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.
"To impress BJP leadership, Rane has been attacking Shiv Sena and its leaders. He lost his mental balance after his induction into the Modi-led ministry. Modi should show him the door," Raut said.
Raut also wrote a letter to PM asking him to remove Rane as a minister.
FIRs in Pune, Nashik, Aurangabad and Mahad
Nashik Police Commissioner Deepak Pandey on Tuesday issued orders for the immediate arrest of Union minister Narayan Rane after an FIR was registered against him in the north Maharashtra city over his remarks against Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.
Accordingly, a team of Nashik Police left in the morning for Ratnagiri district, where Rane is currently carrying out his 'Jan Ashirwad Yatra', an official said.
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), a police official said.
Meanwhile, in Aurangabad , Shiv Sena's spokesperson Ambadas Danve lodged a complaint against Rane at Kranti Chowk police station over the latter's remarks against the CM and party workers hit a photo of the Union minister with footwear. The FIRs have also been lodged in Pune and Mahad.
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.
"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.
Mumbai BJP MLA Ram Kadam defended the Union minister and said, "Rane is know 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.
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."
NCP's stand on the issue
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.
Union minister Narayan Rane on Tuesday defended his remarks against Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, saying he hasn't committed any crime by making them.
On speculation that he will be arrested in this case, Rane said he was not a 'normal' man and cautioned the media against such reportage.
"I haven't committed any crime. You should verify and show it on TV or else I will file a case against you (media). Despite not committing any crime, the media is showing speculative news about my 'imminent' arrest. "Do you think I am a normal (ordinary) man?" Rane told reporters at Chiplun in the coastal Konkan region.
Rane's political journey so far
Rane flagged off his political life in Mumbai with the son-of-the-soil party led by Bal Thackeray in the late 1960s. He entered the Maharashtra Assembly in 1990 as a Sena MLA.
In February 1999 when he was sworn in as Maharashtra's 13th chief minister. That stint was short as the then Shiv Sena-BJP combine lost the state Assembly elections held later that year.
In 2005, Rane parted ways with the Shiv Sena following irreconcilable differences with the Thackerays.
After quitting the Sena, he joined the Congress and was made state revenue minister. He quit the Congress in 2017, saying he had joined it on assurance of being put in the state's top position in six months.
He founded the Maharashtra Swabhiman Paksha with his two sons Nilesh and Nitesh as his key generals but later merged it with the BJP.
Over the years, Rane's rivals have linked him to several incidents of violence, claiming his involvement in the murder of a Sena worker and some other crimes in Konkan's Sindhudurg district.
(With inputs from agencies)