The attack on a Public Works Department (PWD) engineer in Kankavali on Thursday has caused jitters among government officials. Cutting across party lines, leaders have condemned the incident and the government too seems to have sent a strong message by taking prompt action in the case.
After the attack on engineer Prakash Shedekar, the government first directed the arrest of Congress MLA Nitesh Rane, a powerful politician from the Konkan region and the son of former chief minister Narayan Rane. Soon after the incident, PWD Minister Chandrakant Patil, who is considered as the No. 2 in the Devendra Fadnavis Cabinet, visited Shedekar’s family in Pune Friday and extended his support.
On Thursday, Nitesh Rane along with his 16 supporters poured buckets of mud on Shedekar after they tied him up against the railing of a bridge. Rane accused him of doing “nothing to improve the horrendous condition of the Mumbai-Goa highway” in the Kankavli area of Sindhudurg. Rane and his supporters were later arrested.
The incident followed the one in Indore a week ago, where BJP MP Kailash Vijayvargiya’s MLA son Akash Vijayvargiya was arrested for assaulting civic officer Dhirendra Singh Bais with a cricket bat after an argument over a demolition drive.
Though Narayan Rane has condemned the incident, BJP leaders in Kankavali seem to be upset with Patil meeting Shedekar’s family and expressing his support for them. “There will be agreement and disagreement over what Rane did, but the minister should first visit Kankavali and see the state of roads,” said BJP leader Shishir Parulekar. “Rane’s protest is not wrong, but his way of protesting is,” he said. Patil refused to comment. His close aide said they have no clue when he will visit Kankavali. BJP spokesperson Keshav Upadhaye also refused to comment.
On Friday, Patil told the engineer’s family: “The government is with you, we will not tolerate those who indulge in wrong behaviour.” Patil also said that Shedekar has been provided police security. Minister of State (Home), Deepak Kesarkar, who is from the Shiv Sena, said: “Whoever does such an act, will have to face action… If the perpetrator is punished, no one will dare to repeat such act.”
Meanwhile, the state Congress has distanced itself from Nitesh Rane. “Everyone knows Rane is a namesake Congress MLA. He is no more with the Congress. They have formed a new party,” said Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant. He said the Congress strongly condemns such acts. “Assaulting a government servant is not a solution to the problem…we condemn the attack on the PWD engineer,” he said.
Former additional collector Kundalik Karkar said the incident at Kankavali was unfortunate. “The state legislature session was underway. The MLA could have easily raised the issue in the session. To attack a government official in this manner is reprehensible,” he said.
Neelam Gorhe, Deputy Chairperson of the Maharashtra Legislative Council, said there were several democratic options for the MLA to seek redressal for his grievances. “It is certainly not appropriate to attack a government official or a servant. The grievance could have been raised in the assembly or there are some committees of the state legislature where the complaint could have been made,” Gorhe said.