Mumbai: The Maharashtra government told the Bombay High Court on Wednesday that it would not take any “coercive action” against Union minister Narayan Rane in an FIR registered in Nashik over his controversial remarks against Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.
The government’s assurance came a day after the BJP leader was arrested in a case registered against him at Mahad in Raigad district over the same remarks and a local court granted him bail late at night.
On Monday, during his ‘Jan Ashirwad Yatra’ in adjoining Raigad district, Rane had 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 (August 15) speech. Had I been there, I would have given (him) a tight slap.” The statement sparked off angry protests by workers of Thackeray-led Shiv Sena across the state and FIRs were filed against Rane at Mahad, Nashik, Thane and Pune.
An editorial in the Sena’s mouthpiece `Saamana’, on Wednesday launched a scathing attack on Rane and said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi should take his statement against the chief minister seriously.
Rane’s son, MLA Nitesh Rane, on the other hand, demanded President’s rule in the state after some Yuva Sena activists who had taken part in protests against Rane later met the chief minister.
The Bombay High Court on Wednesday heard Rane’s plea seeking to quash the FIR registered against him in Nashik and all other cases that might be lodged in future. Rane also sought interim protection from arrest.
Nashik police had issued a notice directing him to remain present before the investigation officer at 12 pm on September 2.
Senior counsel Amit Desai, appearing for the state, told the division bench of Justices S S Shinde and N J Jamadar that no coercive action (such as arrest) will be taken against Rane in the FIR registered in Nashik till September 17, when the plea would be further heard.
Rane’s lawyer Satish Maneshinde sought protection in all cases that may arise out of the statement in question. Desai, however, said such blanket assurance of protection cannot be made as the petition only mentioned the Nashik FIR.
The HC said that Rane’s lawyers can amend the petition later to seek protection in connection with other FIRs.
The editorial in the Sena mouthpiece said Rane had made the central government hang its head in shame.
Despite being made a Union minister, Rane was behaving like a “roadside gangster”, the Saamana said.
If anybody had spoken in this manner about the prime Minister, he would have been booked under sedition charges and Rane’s crime was similar one, it claimed, adding that prime minister Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah should take his statement seriously.
It also said that the previous BJP-led government in Maharashtra “has made a few intellectuals languish in jail on allegations that they conspired to kill Prime Minister Narendra Modi”, apparently referring to the Elgar Parishad case.
Earlier, Magistrate S S Patil of Mahad court who granted bail to Rane on Tuesday night noted in the detailed order (which became available on Wednesday) that “considering the reason for arrest and other reasons, I found that the arrest is justified”.
But the judge also said that the IPC sections invoked against Rane were not punishable with life or death and “no prejudice would be caused to the prosecution if the accused is released on bail.
The court warned Rane that he “shall not commit a similar type of offense” and must cooperate with the probe.
Shortly after Rane got bail, his son, MLA Nitesh Rane tweeted a clip from the film “Rajneeti”, where a character played by Manoj Bajpayee says, “Those who spit up in the air should know that it would fall on their face only. There will be a strong reply.
Later, he also demanded President’s rule in the state after some Yuva Sena members met Chief Minister Thackeray at his official residence ‘Varsha’ hours after they participated in a protest outside Narayan Rane’s residence in Mumbai.
So it was indeed state-sponsored violence just like West Bengal. As the head of the state, the CM should be ensuring safety but he is actually felicitating hooligans… President’s rule is the only way out to ensure safety from these thugs, the Kankavli MLA tweeted. Elsewhere in Malvan, Rane’s stronghold, unidentified persons threw soda-water bottles at Sena MP Vinayak Raut’s house.
Rane will soon resume his Jan Ashirwad Yatra along the same route, one of his aides said.