Nearly eight hours after getting arrested, Union Minister Narayan Rane (69) has awarded bail by a district court in Mahad, Raigad. Rane was arrested on Tuesday by the Maharashtra police on the grounds of making remarks against Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray. Rane, who has been serving as the Union Minister for Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises, had become the first Central Minister to get arrested in twenty years.
The news of the arrest of a Union Minister had drawn huge attention across the nation and the event had triggered a fresh tussle between the BJP and Shiv Sena in the midst of the ongoing feud between both the factions. On Tuesday, Rane was taken into custody by the police in the coastal Ratnagiri district, where he was travelling as part of the Jan Ashirwad Yatra. On Monday, while speaking in Raigad district, Rane said that Uddhav Thackeray had forgotten the year of Independence during his August 15 address to the people.
The Union Minister said, "It is shameful that the Chief Minister does not know the year of Independence and he leaned back to enquire about the count of years of independence during his speech. If I had been there, I would have given him (the Chief Minister) a tight slap." Rane's threatening remarks that he would slap the Chief Minister had drawn major flak from the cadres of Shiv Sena. However, Rane had on Tuesday defended his remarks against Thackeray and said that he hasn't committed any crime by making them. Responding to the media reports that he may get arrested, Rane claimed that he hasn't done any crime and urged the media to verify the news failing which he will file a complaint against the media agencies. He said, "The media is showing speculative news about my imminent arrest, despite not committing any crime. Do you think I am an ordinary man?".
Rane has sparked protests across the state through his remarks of slapping the Chief Minister as the youth wing of Shiv Sena had staged protests in various cities against the Union Minister, who was also the former Chief Minister of Maharashtra. The cadres of Shiv Sena had slapped the posters of Rane with their footwear in Pune and the Sena workers had ransacked the BJP office in Amaravati and fired the BJP posters in the office in protest against Narayan Rane. As the Sena workers had protested against Rane, hundreds of BJP cadres had gathered outside the residence of Rane in Santacruz to show their support to the Union Minister.
Heavy police security was also deployed outside Rane's residence to counter the grounds of untoward incidents. The BJP had reacted sharply to the protests carried out by the Sena workers and assured that the party stands with Rane. Leader of Opposition in Maharashtra Devendra Fadnavis said the BJP does not support Rane's comments but the party stands behind him 100 per cent. Fadnavis, who was Uddhav Thackeray's predecessor, has alleged that the state police force is being used as a tool for vendetta politics and he said that there should be law and order and not governance like the Taliban.
There were several FIRs filed against Rane across Maharashtra over his remarks against the Chief Minister and to challenge these FIRs, the Union Minister had approached the Bombay High Court and sought anticipatory bail from getting arrested. However, the court had dismissed the plea following which he was arrested. ANI had reported that Narayan Rane was arrested by Sangameshwar Police and later, he was handed over to the Mahad police department. Nearly eight hours after remaining under arrest, Rane has won bail from a district court in Mahad, Raigad.
According to reports, Rane was produced before Judicial Magistrate Shaikhbabaso Patil at 9.45 pm on Tuesday following his arrest in the afternoon. It has been reported that the Union Minister faces four FIRs across the state over his remark against Thackeray and during the hearing, government pleader Bhushan Salvi had sought seven-day police custody for the Union Minister to conduct an investigation into the matter. Salvi has noted that it is imperative to investigate if there was a conspiracy to topple the reputation of the Chief Minister.
However, Rane's lawyers Aniket Nikam and Bhau Salunkhe had argued that his health condition was serious as he was at 69 and he has been suffering from diabetes and blood pressure. Nikam has said that the offences under IPC in which Rane was booked were all punishable with less than seven years. Therefore, there is no need for taking him into custody. He further argued that Rane's arrest was illegitimate as no summon was issued to him before his arrest. After the hearing, the court has awarded bail to the Union Minister on a surety of Rs 15,000. The court has ordered Rane to mark his presence at the Mahad police station on August 30 and September 13 and directed him to cooperate with the police if the police want to collect his voice sample for investigating his remark.