Mumbai police on Friday issued a notice to MP Navneet Rana and her husband MLA Ravi Rana, asking them not to disrupt the law and order situation as they plan to recite Hanuman Chalisa outside Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s residence here on April 23.
On Thursday, Ravi Rana had announced that he was firm on his plan to recite Hanuman Chalisa outside ‘Matoshree’, the private residence of Mr Thackeray, who is also the president of the Shiv Sena on Saturday.
In view of his announcement, a large number of Shiv Sena workers gathered outside ‘Matoshree’ in suburban Bandra in Mumbai on Friday and raised slogans in support of the chief minister. The party workers said the Ranas would be taught a lesson if they turn up at the spot.
The NCP, a constituent of the Shiv Sena-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in the state, of which Congress is also part, slammed MLA Rana for his announcement and accused him of doing so to destabilise the government and stoke communal tension in the state.
An independent MLA from Badnera in Amravati district, Rana had extended his support to the Devendra Fadnavis-led BJP-Sena government in 2014-19.
The police deployed heavy bandobast at Uddhav Thackeray’s residence in Kalanagar area to prevent any untoward incident, as a large number of Shiv Sena supporters gathered outside the house, an official said.
Moreover, there was heavy police deployment when Mr Rana and his wife reached their residence in Khar area, he said.
A team led by DCP Manjunath Singe visited the Rana residence and served them a notice from Kherwadi police station under section 149 of Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC). The couple took the notice, which has been issued to prevent any cognisable offence, he said.
As per the notice, the police have requested them not to disturb peace and maintain aw and order situation, the official said.
Sitting outside Mr Thackeray’s residence, Shiv Sena leaders, who are in a combative mode, said that the couple was not “worthy” to take on the party and will be taught a lesson if they dared to show up outside ‘Matoshree’.
The Sena leaders further accused the Ranas of acting at the behest of the BJP.
“Mahaprasad is ready. Whoever comes, will get it,” Shiv Sena MP Vinayak Raut told reporters cryptically, as he squatted outside ‘Matoshree’ with party workers waiting for the couple to show up.
“…But we want to show the BJP that the Shiv Sena is still alive. We have buried a dishonest friend like you. We are ready to bury you again,” Raut said.
Shiv Sena’s Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Raut said recital of Hanuman Chalisa and Ram Navami celebration was matter of faith and not stunt.
“People like Rana are characters in the nautanki and stunt of the BJP. People don’t take this stunt seriously,” he told reporters.
He described the Rana couple as ‘Bunty aur Babli’, reference to a Hindi movie starring Abhishek Bachchan and Rani Mukherjee.
“They don’t know what Mumbai’s shiv sainiks are made of,” he said.
Secretary of Yuva Sena, the party’s youth wing, Varun Saardesai, who flanked Raut, termed the couple’s declaration as a “stunt” and said the party workers will not let them go back without ‘prasad’ (without teaching them a lesson) “if they dared to turn up”. “They are not big enough to talk about the Shiv Sena chief (Thackeray),” he said.
Sena MP Anil Desai accused the Ranas of engaging in theatrics since they don’t have people’s issue to raise and alleged that the couple was trying to destabilise Thackeray-led MVA government.
“Maharashtra has overcome its problems under Thackeray’s leadership. So, they are engaging in such stunts to destabilise the MVA government and are pitching communities against each other,” Desai said.
He further said that the Shiv Sena follows and practices “real Hindutva” and wondered if the Ranas themselves can recite ‘Hanuman Chalisa’.
Meanwhile, the NCP’s state unit chief spokesman Mahesh Tapase claimed that Rana was inspired by the BJP’s ideology and expressed confidence that the MVA government in the state cannot be destabilised.
“There is news about the Rana couple planning to recite Hanuman Chalisa outside ‘Matoshree’. Is this the job of a public representative?” Mr Tapase said in a video statement.
A public representative should work to get approvals for development works for his or her constituency, district and the state, he said.
“What are they (Ranas) interested in? They are only interested in destabilising the state government and stoking communal tension in Maharashtra,” Mr Tapase claimed.
The people of Maharashtra would have hailed the Ranas if they had raised the issue of power shortage before the Central government, the NCP leader said.
“Unfortunately, they are not raising these important issues. Maharashtra cannot be destabilised. The MVA government is strong,” he added.
Earlier, MLA Rana had asked Chief Minister Thackeray to recite the devotional hymns at his residence on the occasion of Hanuman Jayanti celebrated on April 16, drawing criticism from the Sena.
Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) Raj Thackeray had earlier given an ultimatum to the state government to remove loudspeakers atop mosques by May 3 citing noise pollution, and threatened to play Hanuman Chalisa outside these religious places at a higher volume if his demand was not met. The BJP has supported his demand.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)