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Navneet Rana dares Uddhav Thackeray to contest against her in elections

Independent MP Navneet Rana after being discharged from Lilavati hospital, at Bandra in Mumbai, on May 8, 2022.

Independent MP Navneet Rana after being discharged from Lilavati hospital, at Bandra in Mumbai, on May 8, 2022. | Photo Credit: PTI

Firing a fresh salvo against Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and the Shiv Sena, independent MP from Amravati, Navneet Rana, who was discharged from Mumbai’s Lilavati Hospital on Sunday, accused Mr. Thackeray of misusing his power while challenging him to contest any election against her.

She further alleged that she was “harassed” in the lockup merely for using Lord Ram’s name and wanting to recite the Hanuman Chalisa and warned that she would complain about the alleged ‘mistreatment’ to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led Central government.

“I challenge the Chief Minister that you can choose your constituency, and I will contest against him on the basis of my work and my integrity and win… They [the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi government] thought they would silence me by sending me to jail. What mistake have I done in taking Lord Ram’s name? Even if this government consigns me for 14 years to prison, they cannot silence my voice,” said Ms. Rana, throwing down the gauntlet at Mr. Thackeray.

Ms. Rana and her husband, Ravi Rana, an independent legislator from Badnera (also in Amravati district), were arrested by the Mumbai Police on April 23 for “promoting enmity between different groups and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony.” They were swiftly taken into police custody in a high-voltage drama following their provocation to play the Hanuman Chalisa in front of Mr. Thackeray’s private residence ‘Matoshree’. A sedition charge was also slapped on the political couple.

The ruling tripartite MVA government of the Shiv Sena, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and the Congress have censured the duo’s actions by accusing them of deliberately heightening tensions in the State, while accusing the BJP of instigating the Rana couple’s actions.

Ms. Rana, who was in Byculla Jail during her judicial custody, was rushed to the Lilavati Hospital after her release. She complained she was suffering from high blood pressure and chest pains.

“I am going to meet the Prime Minister and the Home Minister [Amit Shah] in Delhi. Even if the Shiv Sena destroys my house, I will come on the road and recite the Hanuman Chalisa. I will not rest till I have exposed the corruption in the Mumbai civic body [the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation], which has been ruled by the Shiv Sena for two generations,” Ms. Rana said.

She further said that Mumbai’s public and the devotees of Lord Ram would put the Shiv Sena in its place in the forthcoming civic body polls.

Meanwhile, the Maharashtra Government is likely to petition the court to cancel the bail granted to Ms. Rana and her husband.

According to the special public prosecutor, advocate Pradeep Gharat, the couple’s statements in the media amounted to a clear contempt of court as they were in violation of their bail conditions.

In a riposte to the Ms. Rana’s ‘challenge’ for the Chief Minister to contest the election against her, Mumbai Mayor and senior Sena leader Kishori Pednekar also concurred that Ms. Rana’s statements were tantamount to a violation of the court’s order.

Dismissing the Rana husband-wife couple’s provocations against the Sena, she said that the Chief Minister never answered to such “puny political opponents”.

The Sena has accused the BJP of using the Rana couple as a tool against them ahead of the crucial BMC election, given the Mumbai civic body is the nerve centre of Uddhav Thackeray’s party.

The BJP, which is the second-largest party in the cash-rich BMC, is looking to supplant its estranged erstwhile saffron partner, the Sena in Mumbai and Maharashtra. To this end, it has aggressively targeted the Sena over forsaking its ‘Hindutva’ following the latter’s alliance with the ideologically opposed NCP and Congress to form the MVA.

BJP leaders Devendra Fadnavis (Leader of the Opposition in the State Assembly) and Kirit Somaiya had visited Ms. Rana during her hospital stint, with Mr. Fadnavis accusing the Uddhav Thackeray-led government of having crossed “the limits of cruelty” in its treatment of the Amravati MP.

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Printable version | Jun 17, 2022 2:48:07 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/navneet-rana-dares-maharashtra-cm-thackeray-to-contest-election-against-her/article65394204.ece