Union Minister Narayan Rane was arrested today for his comment about slapping Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray for his “ignorance of the year India gained independence.”
Mr. Rane, who became Minister for Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet in July, is the first central minister to be arrested in 20 years.
He was denied a last-minute reprieve by the Bombay High Court, which denied an urgent hearing on his petition to have three FIRs against him dismissed.
“The police have arrived to arrest him, they are waiting at his doorstep,” Mr. Rane’s lawyer told the court. The High Court responded as follows: “Please adhere to the procedure. Don’t make us do the registry’s work.”
The Shiv Sena has filed cases against Mr. Rane for his remarks on Monday during a “Jan Ashirwad Yatra” organized by the BJP over the country for new ministers in PM Modi’s government. Mr. Thackeray, he claimed, forgot the year of independence during his August 15 speech and had to verify with his aide’s mid-speech.
“It is disheartening that the Chief Minister is unaware of the year of independence. During his speech, he drifted back to inquire about the number of years of independence. If I had been there, I would have given him a firm slap “Mr. Rane stated during a public meeting in Raigad.
The remarks sparked widespread Shiv Sena outrage and protests, and FIRs were filed in three cities for non-bailable offenses.
Mr. Rane had defended his words and warned the media not to report his “imminent arrest,” claiming he was not a normal person.
“I haven’t done anything wrong. You must verify and broadcast it on television, or I will file a lawsuit against you (media). Despite the fact that I have not committed any crime, the media is reporting speculative news about my ‘imminent’ arrest. Do you consider me to be a normal (ordinary) man?” He had stated
The Sena claimed that Mr. Rane, a former Sena leader, made the remarks on purpose to incite unrest in Maharashtra.