FORMER STATE chief minister and BJP’s Rajya Sabha MP Narayan Rane on Friday made clear his ambition of returning to state politics. In a veiled jibe at the BJP leadership, Rane, who quit the Congress in September 2017, claimed that “the decision to go the Rajya Sabha was not at his own volition”.
After floating his own party, the Maharashtra Swabhimaan Paksha, Rane had declared support for the BJP-led NDA and was later nominated by the BJP to the Rajya Sabha in April 2018. Speaking at the release of his autobiography, No Holds Barred: My Years in Politics, in Mumbai, Rane said: “One thing that saddens me is that an important phase in my life was frittered away. It is still being wasted. I am in Delhi now but my heart is still in Maharashtra politics.”
He added, “All of us find Maharashtra to be a progressive state, but many things still need to be done. Prosperity should reach the common man.”
In another jibe at the ruling coalition, Rane remarked, “While in the ruling party, sometimes you have to speak in support of something you are not entirely convinced about.” NCP president Sharad Pawar and BJP minister Nitin Gadkari, who presided over the event, meanwhile, maintained that Rane’s original decision to quit the Shiv Sena in 2005 was a mistake. Recounting his rise to the CM’s chair under the Sena fold, Pawar claimed that Rane’s move to join the Congress was an even bigger mistake.
“Personally, I feel he shouldn’t have quit the Shiv Sena. He was one of Balasaheb (Bal Thackeray’s) trusted lieutenants. Rane was in two minds after quitting the party on whether to join the Congress or the NCP. He drew chits to pick the Congress. I don’t know if it was a mistake or a blunder,” said Pawar.
He added that while Rane had remained under the impression that he would be elevated to the CM’s chair within a few months after joining the Congress, he had told him that the decisions were not taken in this manner in the Congress.
Contending that he, too, had tried to convince Rane to stay back with the Sena, Gadkari claimed, “Had Rane not quit the Shiv Sena then, Maharashtra’s current political scenario would have been entirely different.”
But Rane claimed that the move to quit Sena was borne out of compulsion. He also alleged that current Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray had threatened to leave Matoshree (the Thackeray residence) with his wife if Bal Thackeray reinducted Rane into the party.
The Marathi version of Rane’s autobiography was also released at the function.