Mumbai, Aug 24: In an unprecedented development in the state political history, the Maharashtra Police on Tuesday afternoon arrested Union Minister Narayan Rane for his 'slap slur' remark against Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray, as an aggressive Shiv Sena protested vociferously all over the state.
This is said to be a first in the state when a serving Union Minister has been arrested and comes around 20 years after a union cabinet ministers, the late Murasoli Maran and T.R. Baalu, both in the government of the late Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee, were nabbed by Chennai Police in June 2001.
In a day of fast-paced developments, a team of police personnel went to Rane's camp in Sangameshwar in Ratnagiri in the Konkan region, whisked him off to a waiting vehicle and took him to the local police station for the other arrest-related formalities amidst tight security.
The sensational happenings came barely a couple of hours after Rane sharply dared that "nobody could do anything to him" or prevent him from "moving around freely".
A team of senior police officers met Rane and later completed the arrest formalities even as a large number of his supporters and a huge posse of police were present.
Rane, whose health seemed to have deteriorated as he suffered from diabetes and hypertension, underwent a preliminary medical checkup and is expected to be taken to Nashik later.
Anticipating the arrest possibility, Rane's team had moved the Bombay High Court seeking to stay the arrest but was declined urgent hearing in the matter.
Multiple police complaints have been filed against Rane with Police in Pune, Raigad, Nashik and at least two teams of Nashik and Pune police proceeded to nab the central minister.
This afternoon, Leader of Opposition DevendraFadnavis had dropped hints at the upcoming possibilities, stating that if Rane was arrested, the party had kept a Plan B ready to carry forward the ongoing Jan AshirwadYatra.
However, while the BJP has categorically rejected Rane's statements, the entire party will solidly stand behind him in the current crisis, Fadnavis assured.
The stunning arrest of Rane - a former Shiv Sena Chief Minister - is likely to trigger further bitterness with the party's former ally, BJP, which went on a downslide after Thackeray joined hands with the Nationalist Congress Party-Congress to head the MahaVikasAghadi (MVA) government in November 2019.
Top leaders from both the NCP-Congress have flayed Rane's remarks against the CM, even as angry Saniks went on protests throughout the state.
Even as a police team was closeted with Rane, one of his aides, PramodJathar claimed that "no arrest warrant has been produced and the police allegedly pleaded that they were under 'pressure' to arrest Rane in five minutes".
Jathar contended that the police were not following the due protocols, nor showing the arrest warrant or other documents for the same and not revealing under whose alleged 'pressure' they were taking the action.
Angry Rane supporters and BJP activists raised anti-Maharashtra government slogans and threatened to block roads and highways till his "illegal arrest" was cancelled.