Mumbai

Mr. and Mrs. Rana: Independents with an agenda

MP Navneet Rana with husband Ravi Rana after they were arrested for promoting enmity between different groups on Saturday, at the Santacruz Station in Mumbai.

MP Navneet Rana with husband Ravi Rana after they were arrested for promoting enmity between different groups on Saturday, at the Santacruz Station in Mumbai. | Photo Credit: PTI

Barely two months after Navneet Rana won from Amaravati (SC) Lok Sabha constituency as an independent with support from Congress-Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), she met the then Chief Minister of Maharashtra Devendra Fadnavis in July 2019 and donated her first MP salary to CM relief fund citing the need of funds for drought-affected farmers in the State. Not that the Congress-NCP leaders in the State were surprised to see her change side but they never thought that it will be so soon and blatant.

A few months later, her husband and independent MLA from Badnera Assembly seat, Ravi Rana, was at the forefront of uniting independent MLAs in post-Maharashtra Assembly polls turmoil in favour of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The couple is known to grab attention and controversies never skip them. So much so that, the Bombay High Court has cancelled Ms. Rana’s caste certificate in June 2021. While her appeal is pending in Supreme Court, the case is moving at a snail’s speed. 

Presently, the couple is in jail after the Mumbai Police arrested them for ‘creating enmity between different groups’ as they jumped into a saffron wagon and wanted to recite Hanuman Chalisa in front of Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s house. The Rana versus Sena saga is also a reflection of desperate attempts by the BJP to corner Thackerays. Ms. Rana’s speeches in Lok Sabha have direct attacks the State government. She has even complained of a breach of privilege against Amaravati CP and municipal commissioner. She accused Sena MP Arvind Sawant of threatening her and claimed that the State government has failed on every front.

Ravi Rana, an aide of a Mumbai-based hotelier - who had vast political contacts across parties and regions - contested 2009 Maharashtra Assembly poll as an independent and the young leader managed to attract youth with his massive ‘poster’ campaign. During the time he became closely acquainted with Baba Ramdev. So much that Ramdev’s Yog shibirs became a routine affair in Amaravati district.

Navneet Kaur, a Punjabi born in Mumbai was a model and tried her prospects in the film industry. With an experience in Kannada, Telugu, Malayalam, Tamil, and Punjabi films, she met Mr. Rana in one of the ‘shibirs.’ With Ramdev playing a cupid, both got married in 2011 at a mass wedding ceremony organised by him along with 3000 other couples. Mr. Rana, as an independent MLA was always seen trying to get close with the then Congress Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan. 

Despite Ramdev leading anti-Manmohan Singh government protests before 2014 general elections, UPA’s constituent NCP decided to field her against Shiv Sena’s Anand Adsul. It led to rebellion within the NCP and ultimately her defeat. Irrespective of wife being an NCP candidate, Mr. Rana later supported BJP-led State government in Maharashtra as an independent MLA.

In 2019 general elections, Ms. Rana again contested as an independent with support from Congress-NCP. She won by close to 40,000 votes against Mr. Adsul who then started pursuing her fake caste certificate case in which Bombay High Court cancelled her caste certificate in June 2021. Now it is pending in the apex court.


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Printable version | Jun 25, 2022 5:20:07 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/mr-and-mrs-rana-independents-with-an-agenda/article65357194.ece