Union minister Narayan Rane on Wednesday said that he would not “let Maharashtra become West Bengal”, hinting that the Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party-Congress coalition government would not stay in power for very long, reported NDTV.
“...Thackeray government is a guest for a few days,” Rane said, during a press conference in Mumbai, a day after he was released on bail.
At an event in Raigad district on Monday, Rane had threatened to slap Thackeray for forgotting the year of India’s Independence during his August 15 speech.
“It is shameful that the chief minister does not know the year of independence,” Rane had said. “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 Maharashtra Police had on Tuesday arrested the Union minister for his remarks. Hours later, he was sent to judicial custody, but was released on bail on the same day.
The senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader said that his party colleagues had “stood behind” him during his arrest in the case, reported ANI.
Senior BJP leaders Devendra Fadnavis and Chandrakant Patil had on Tuesday said that they did not support Rane’s comment, but asserted that the arrest was unjustified.
Rane said that he will resume the Jan Ashirwad Yatra, a week-long tour of Maharashtra, from Friday. He began the tour on August 19 and was supposed to end it in Sindhudurg district, reported PTI.
“The verdict in all cases filed [by Shiv Sena] against me in Bombay High Court has come in my favour,” Rane said, according to ANI. “This is an indication that the country is run by laws.”
He added that everyone who was made Cabinet ministers were asked by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to seek the “blessings of people”, reported News18. Rane joined Modi’s Cabinet in July as the minister for micro, small and medium enterprises.
“What did I say that made them angry?” asked Rane. “Will not say it again till the court matter ends.”
No coercive steps against Rane till September 17
No coercive steps would be taken against Rane till September 17 in the case registered against him for his remark about slapping the Maharashtra chief minister, the state government told the Bombay High Court on Wednesday, reported PTI.
A division bench of Justices NJ Jamadar and SS Shinde had taken up a plea, challenging the first information report against Rane in Nashik and any other cases filed in the future. Rane also asked the court to provide him interim protection from arrest.
BJP blames Shiv Sena leader for arrest
The BJP’s Maharashtra unit on Wednesday alleged that Shiv Sena leader and state minister Anil Parab was behind the arrest of Rane, reported ANI.
This came after a video clip showing Parab issuing orders for the arrest has been widely shared on social media, reported the Hindustan Times. The BJP has said that it will approach the court as Rane was arrested due to political pressure.
“Why are you not arresting him? Why are you not taking him in custody?” Parab is purportedly heard saying in the video. “You will have to do it. Which order they are asking for? There is no need for any such order as the High Court and session court have turned down their plea for bail. Use police force and arrest him.”
Parab’s comments, which he reportedly made during a phone call in the middle of a media briefing in Ratnagiri district, were caught on the camera of a local channel. However, it was not clear who was on the other end of the call.
“We demand a CBI [Central Bureau of Investigation] inquiry into the arrest and the entire procedure of action,” BJP MLA Ashish Shelar told ANI. “Why is the Maharashtra government so scared of Jan Ashirvaad Yatra that they are behaving like this?”
Shelar also said that the party will write 75,000 letters and send them to the chief minister “so that he does not forget” the number of years of Independence. He also asked whether Thackeray would apologise to the public, reported ANI.
The Shiv Sena, however, defended Rane’s arrest in an editorial in the party’s mouthpiece Saamna, reported the Hindustan Times.
“Anyone who speaks against Modi is charged with anti-national activity and is sent to jail,” the article said. “Rane’s crime is of similar fashion. Maharashtra is a law-abiding state, and it was necessary to send a strong message that we will not tolerate beyond a limit. Even Modi will not tolerate such arrogance.”
The article also noted that certain “intellectuals who were accused of conspiring against Modi are still languishing in jail” after they were arrested during the previous Fadnavis-led BJP government. This was a reference to the activists jailed in the Bhima Koregaon case.