MUMBAI: A day after Narayan Rane sparked off a row over his remarks about "giving a tight slap to Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray", multiple FIRs have have been lodged in Pune, Nashik, Mahad, and other places against the Union minister.
Nashik Police have sent a team to Chipun, where Rane is expected to attend a Janashirwad Yatra on Tuesday. They are likely to arrest him.
The remarks made by the Union minister has also drawn sharp criticism from Shiv Sena. The party workers have erected posters of Union minister depicting a hen and calling him a hen thief.
"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.
However, the BJP leaders defended Narayan Rane saying his language is like that of late Balasaheb Thackeray's, so people should understand it. BJP leader Ram Kadam said that there can be a debate over Narayan Rane's langauge, but the state police cannot arrest him.
"Narayan Rane is a Union cabinet minister therefore the police cannot violate the protocol and arrest him. They can give reply in same language. If he is arrested, then we will protest against it," Kadam said.
Chandrakant Patil, Maharashtra BJP president said that he cannot defend the statement made by the Union minister but the state govt police cannot arrest him. He said this is the language and style of Rane.
"They can give notice or warn that the ministers should not speak like this. But there should not be an arrest," Patil said, adding during the Dussera rally, Uddhav Thackeray also made many controversial statements so can we arrest them?
Patil wondered how a state could plan to arrest a Union minister.
"Is there no administrative procedure?" he asked.
"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.
On Monday, during his 'Jan Ashirwad Yatra' in adjoining Raigad district, Rane 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 speech. Had I been there, I would have given (him) a tight slap."
The BJP leader and former Shiv Sena chief minister claimed Thackeray forgot the year of independence during his August 15 address to the people of the state.
Thackeray had to check the year of independence with his aides midway during the speech that day, Rane 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.
"This is cheating by the state government. The state government is scared because of the massive response garnered by his rally," the legislator told a news channel.
He also claimed that Thackeray as CM had earlier made controversial statements and also used inflammatory language.
"However, it was conveniently ignored by people as well as the state machinery," Kadam said.
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."
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.
He also claimed that the BJP was trying to do politics, "like it did in West Bengal by inciting violence".
"The BJP must understand that Maharashtra will not get into it," he added.
(With PTI Inputs)