Narayan Rane
Narayan Rane has been arrested over his comment on slapping Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray Image Credit: PTI

In an unprecedented development in India, the Maharashtra police today arrested Narayan Rane, minister for micro medium and small enterprises in the Modi cabinet.

The dramatic arrest, a first of its kind in the annals of political history in India, came after Rane made a “I will slap him” comment about Uddhav Thackeray, Maharashtra chief minister (CM) and the chief of the ruling Shiv Sena.

Rane, was detained by the Ratnagiri police as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) desperately moved the Mumbai High Court to ensure that he got anticipatory bail.

Rane’s blood pressure shot up after he was taken into custody with dramatic scenes of violence against him playing out in Mumbai for his remarks attacking Thackeray.

Thackeray proved that he was the real heir to the Bal Thackeray legacy for the all out aggression against his opponent. Rane and Thackeray have a long and ugly history of attacks against one another.

Rane believes that Thackeray got him booted out after his brief stint as the CM of Maharashtra. After he was thrown out of Shiv Sena, Rane, who started as a small Shiv Sena Shakha pramukh (block chief) of the Sena, joined the Congress and then did a somersault to the BJP.

There has ben a massive backlash over Rane's 'slap Uddhav' dig
There has been a massive backlash over Rane's 'slap Uddhav' dig Image Credit: PTI

Said a Sena minister exclusively to Gulf News, “Uddhav has shown that he is truly Balasaheb’s son. He waited a long time but took proper action against Rane. Nobody can abuse the Thackeray family and get away with it in Maharashtra. We are still the Sena who make our opponents bite the dust. Rane is a minister in the central government. Could they save him? We rule Maharashtra and we let no one forget that”.

Interestingly, both Uddhav and his estranged cousin Raj Thackeray are united in their absolute dislike of Rane.

This huge political development will have its repercussions in the relationship between the Centre and Mumbai but for now there are four interesting takeaways.

Rane has a long history of making intemperate remarks but this is a historic first when he had to face police action as a consequence.

The BJP represented by Devendra Fadnavis, former CM of Maharashtra, distanced themselves from Rane’s remarks but, said that they did not support the arrest. Sources say Amit Shah, union home minister, is likely to call Thackeray to get some relief for the union minister.

The second and most significant point is that despite repeated plants in the media, Uddhav Thackeray has no interest in patching up with the Narendra Modi and Amit Shah.

The Sena and BJP were long time allies -- for nearly 20 years -- before Thackeray dumped the BJP to partner with the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) to form the tripartite alliance government in Mumbai.

The BJP has been desperate to patch up with its saffron twin, the Sena, and Rane was just trying to make it difficult for Thackeray. Uddhav clearly has thrown the alliance and political rules out of the window, signalling that Thackeray family plays by its own rules of politics.

The third take way is BJP’s desperation to be in power in Maharashtra India’s richest state. Clearly Thackeray and Sharad Pawar, chief of the NCP and architect of the alliance government, are not interested in any patch up with the BJP.

Final word by a close aide of Thackeray, “the opposition needs to learn from Uddhav Thackeray how to take on the BJP. We have put up a huge sign board in Mumbai saying BJP not welcome. Don’t come to Matoshree (Thackeray family home) uninvited. We will put you in jail.”