Arrest warrant against Union minister Narayan Rane for his “slapping Uddhav Thackeray” comment

News Desk: Workers of Maharashtra’s ruling Shiv Sena and the opposition BJP clashed on the streets in Mumbai today in a snowballing controversy over Union Minister Narayan Rane’s comment on slapping Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray for his “ignorance of the year of India’s Independence”. Narayan Rane faces an arrest warrant after a case filed by Sena workers.

The comments have sparked protests by outraged Shiv Sena leaders. A fight broke out as Sena members marching towards Narayan Rane’s home in Mumbai, carrying flags and shouting slogans, were stopped by BJP workers. Scores of policemen tried to break up the fight outside Mr Rane’s Juhu house and even used force to separate rival workers. Stones were also thrown between two groups. Sena workers sat on the road, blocking traffic.

A group of Sena workers were earlier seen throwing stones at the BJP office in Nagpur this morning.

An FIR was filed in Nashik and the police have put out a warrant for the Union Minister’s arrest. Some reports said a police team has left for Chiplun, where Mr Rane is believed to be at present.

“The Union minister will be arrested in the case and produced before a court, and further action will be taken according to orders of the court,” said Nashik police chief Deepak Pandey.

He said “after the arrest” Vice President Venkaiah Naidu will be informed as the minister is a member of the Rajya Sabha.

“While arresting Rane the police will follow all protocols with regard to a Union Minister,” said the officer.

The Sena alleges that Mr Rane, a former leader of the party, has been looking to create trouble in the state and his remarks are a part of his strategy to provoke tension.

Mr Rane had made the remarks on Monday at a public meeting in Raigad held as part of the nationwide “Jan Ashirwad Yatra” organised by his party BJP for new ministers in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet.

He claimed Mr Thackeray forgot the year of independence during his August 15 address and had to check with his aides mid-speech.

“It is shameful that the Chief Minister does not know the year of independence. He leaned back to ask about the count of years of independence during his speech. Had I been there, I would have given him a tight slap,” Mr Rane said.

The youth wing of the Shiv Sena, Yuva Sena, has put up posters across the state using a slur to refer to Mr Rane – “kombdi chor” (chicken stealer) – a reference to the poultry shop he ran in Chembur five decades ago when he was in the Shiv Sena.

Shiv Sena MP Vinayak Raut launched a fierce attack on Mr Rane.

“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,” Mr Raut said.

Mr Rane started his political life in Mumbai with the Shiv Sena led by Bal Thackeray. He entered the Maharashtra Assembly in 1990 as a Sena MLA.

He took over as Maharashtra Chief Minister in 1999 but his stint was short-lived as the Shiv Sena-BJP combine lost the state election later that year.

In 2005, Mr Rane quit the Sena following a clash with the Thackerays.

He joined the Congress and became a state minister. But he quit the Congress too in 2017, accusing the party of not following through on its promise to make him chief minister. He founded his own party with his two sons Nilesh and Nitesh but later merged it with the BJP.

He joined PM Modi’s cabinet in July.