Mumbai | In an unprecedented development in the political history of the state, Maharashtra Police on Tuesday afternoon arrested Union Minister Narayan Rane for his ‘slapping’ remarks against Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray. This is said to be the first time in the state that a serving Union minister has been arrested and nearly 20 years later, Union cabinet ministers, the late Murasoli Maran and T.R. Balu, both the late Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee was arrested by the Chennai Police in June 2001.
A team of police personnel went to Rane’s camp at Sangameshwar in Ratnagiri, Konkan region, took him in a waiting vehicle and took him to the local police station for other arrest formalities amid tight security.
Barely a few hours after the incident, Rane courageously said that “no one can do anything to him or stop him from roaming freely.”
A team of senior police officers met Rane and later completed the formalities of the arrest, while a large number of his supporters and police were present.
Rane, whose health seemed to be deteriorating as he was suffering from diabetes and high blood pressure, underwent his initial medical check-up and is expected to be taken to Nashik later.
Sensing the possibility of arrest, Rane’s team had moved the Bombay High Court seeking a stay on the arrest, but the matter was refused an urgent hearing.
Several complaints have been filed against Rane with the police in Pune, Raigad, Nashik and at least two teams of Nashik and Pune police reached to nab the Union Minister.
This afternoon, Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis hinted at the upcoming possibilities, saying that if Rane was arrested, the party had a Plan B ready to go ahead with the ongoing Jan Ashirwad Yatra.
Fadnavis assured that though the BJP has categorically rejected Rane’s statements, the entire party will stand firmly by him in the current crisis.
The surprise arrest of Rane – a former chief minister of the Shiv Sena – is likely to cause further bitterness with the party’s former ally, the BJP, which was in line with the Nationalist Congress Party-Congress by Thackeray to lead the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in November 2019. After shaking hands, he went downstairs.
Top leaders of both the NCP-Congress have condemned Rane’s remarks against the chief minister, even as angry workers staged protests across the state.
Even when a police team was with Rane, one of his associates, Pramod Jathar, claimed that “no arrest warrant has been produced and the police had reportedly requested that they arrest Rane within five minutes”. Were under ‘pressure’ for it.”
Jathar argued that the police were not following proper protocol, not showing arrest warrants or other documents and not disclosing under whose alleged ‘pressure’ they were acting.
Angry Rane supporters and BJP workers raised anti-Maharashtra government slogans and threatened to block roads and highways till his “illegal arrest” is revoked.