Shiv Sena workers gathered in large numbers outside the apartment of Amravati MP Navneet Rana and her husband MLA Ravi Rana in Mumbai this morning, chanting slogans after the couple announced they would recite the Hanuman Chalisa outside ‘Matoshree’, the residence of Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.
The Shiv Sena workers broke through the barricades and attempted to enter the Legislative couple’s premises in Suburban Khar, but police brought the situation under control and prevented the Shiv Sena workers from proceeding.
Both Navneet Rana and Ravi Rana are independent legislators from Vidarbha region of Maharashtra.
On Friday, a team led by Deputy Police Commissioner Manjunath Singe visited Rane’s residence and sent them a message asking them to maintain law and order.
Police have increased security outside ‘Matoshree’ and placed barricades on the road leading to the Thackeray residence to prevent crowds. Police personnel were also deployed outside the couple’s apartment after Shiv Sena workers showed up there yesterday and challenged the couple to vacate their residence.
However, unfazed by the wrath of the Shiv Sena and the warning of the Mumbai police, the couple insisted they were steadfast in their plan. “The chief minister of Maharashtra ordered Shiv Sena workers to harass us. They are breaking the barricades. I repeat that I will go out and sing Hanuman Chalisa in ‘Matroshree’,” claimed Navneet Rana.
Shiv Sena employees, who have strongly opposed the plan of the politician couple, have been camping outside ‘Matoshree’ since yesterday. Former mayor of Mumbai and leader of Shiv Sena, Kishori Pednekar, said: “We have accepted the challenge of the Rana couple. Bring them on, we are ready to welcome them and give them ‘prasad’.”
The party accused the BJP of plotting to harass the Sena-led coalition government in the state and using the Ranas and MNS Chief Raj Thackeray as pawns.
“They were pushed by someone to do this. Shiv Sena workers are here to protect ‘Matoshree’,” said Shiv Sena MP Anil Desai.
Senior party leader Sanjay Raut said the Hanuman Chalisa and Ram Navami were matters of faith and not grounds for a stunt.
Mr Raut described the Rana couple as ‘Bunty aur Babli’, referring to a Hindi movie. “People like Rana are characters in the natanki (drama) and stunt of the BJP. People don’t take this stunt seriously,” he said.
Earlier this month, Ravi Rana had demanded that the Chief Minister recite Hanuman Chalisa at his residence on Hanuman Jayanti. His demand followed Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray’s ‘ultimatum’ to the state government to remove loudspeakers from mosques by May 3.