Mumbai: Narayan Rane has been made a minister in the Modi cabinet. There is also a memorable anecdote related to him. This is from June 2002. Congress was a coalition government of NCP in Maharashtra. The Chief Minister was Vilasrao Deshmukh. Deshmukh was the head of a khichdi government that was formed with the support of independent legislators and small parties. Before Deshmukh, Narayan Rane was the Chief Minister of the Shiv Sena BJP coalition government till 1999.
Meanwhile, news came that 5 PWP MLAs have given a letter to the Governor to withdraw support to the Deshmukh government. The PWP opposed the inclusion of a leader named Sunil Tatkare in the cabinet because the PWP believed that Tatkare of the NCP had done the job of defeating its candidate Supriya Patil in the Raigad Zilla Parishad elections. The Deshmukh government was reduced to a minority. Narayan Rane tried to hit a four on the spot. Governor PC Alexander gave Deshmukh ten days to prove his majority. Rane felt that if even NCP MLAs withdrew their support, they would form their government.
As part of his plan, Rane took some NCP and Congress MLAs with him and on June 5, 2002, they were kept in hiding at Matoshree Sports Club in Jogeshwari, Mumbai. It was alleged on behalf of Congress NCP that these MLAs were kidnapped by Rane and they have been kept there by intimidation. They are being forced to sign the affidavit of withdrawal of support from the government.
Guard of Shiv Sainiks
Hundreds of Shiv Sainiks were guarded day and night outside Matoshree Sports Club. Parinda could not even hit outside the club. Leaders like Narayan Rane and the then Shiv Sena’s Bala Nandgaonkar were themselves present in the club all the time. Journalists were also not being allowed to thrash around the club. When I reached Matoshree’s gate with my cameraman Gajanand Gujar, Shiv Sainiks surrounded us. The Shiv Sainiks were not allowing the camera to be removed and were bent upon assaulting Gajanand. We camped at some distance from the gate.
Meanwhile, news came that one night, a Congress MLA named Padmakar Valvi tried to escape from the club, but the auto rickshaw in which Valvi was running away was surrounded by the Shiv Sainiks on guard and beat up Valvi and brought him back to the club. brought in.
After the news of Valvi came out, the government decided to use the police to rescue the MLAs. On the instructions of Home Minister Chhagan Bhujbal, it was decided to conduct the operation during the night. This work was entrusted to the fast paced DCP Pradeep Sawant of the Crime Branch. Sawant used to be the boss of all the encounter specialist police officers of Mumbai in those days. As far as I remember, one night he reached inside the Matoshree Sports Club with two encounter specialist officers and an army of 100 policemen. He was accompanied by NCP MLAs Sachin Ahir and Jitendra Ahwad. Narayan Rane was sleeping at that time. When he got the news of the arrival of Pradeep Sawant and the encounter specialist officers, he was furious. Coming to the gate of Matoshree club, he abused a lot. Threatened Pradeep Sawant and the accompanying policemen.
Seeing Rane’s fierce appearance, those police officers were also horrified. After all, he was the former Chief Minister of Maharashtra and was considered a strong leader of Shiv Sena. No police officer wanted to mess with him. Therefore, despite bringing a large police force with them, those officers had to return back unharmed. These officers feared that if Rane became the Chief Minister again tomorrow, they would not be well.
I remember after that Rane called me and a couple of other TV journalists inside the Matoshree Sports Club. All the MLAs were presented before us, including Valvi. I saw that Gopinath Munde was also present there. He introduced us to all the MLAs and told which assembly constituency they come from. All the MLAs were told on cameras that they are living in Matoshree Sports Club of their own free will. He has not been kidnapped and he is now with Rane because of his displeasure with the government. While giving me interviews, Rane himself or some of his men used to be present with the MLAs and listen to what they were saying.
The date of 13 June 2002 was fixed. To prove majority in the assembly for Vilasrao Deshmukh. Amidst the guard of Shiv Sainiks, Rane reached Vidhan Bhavan with the MLAs present with him. On reaching Vidhan Bhavan, Rane took all the MLAs to his cabin. MLA Valvi made an excuse that he had to go to the toilet and went straight to Speaker Arun Gujrati’s room but Gujarati was not there. A disgruntled Valvi looked for him and found that he was in the committee room. He narrated his entire ordeal to Speaker Gujarati and said that he was feeling threatened. On the orders of the speaker, he was given the security of marshal.
Speaker Gujarati had disqualified 7 MLAs before the confidence motion came in the assembly. Out of which five MLAs were from NCP, one from Janata Dal Secular and one Independent. The number of seats in the House has come down from 288 to 281. Apart from this, 5 PWP MLAs decided to take part in the voting. In this case, the magic figure of majority became 138. Vilasrao Deshmukh won the trust vote. He got 143 votes in support and 133 votes against. The government survived and Rane again missed the opportunity to become the chief minister.
riots among workers
As soon as the news came out of the assembly, there was a riot between Shiv Sainiks and NCP workers. Workers of both the parties started pelting stones at each other on the road in front of Mantralaya. The police had to lathi-charge and use tear gas shells. I saw that the then Zone 1 DCP Ashok Kamte and the then Police Commissioner MN Singh were struggling a lot to quell the violence. Singh in a stern tone warning Rane to control his people. Rane’s official bungalow was on the same road opposite Mantralaya.
Rane believes that Uddhav Thackeray and Gopinath Munde were behind the failure of his operation. Balasaheb Thackeray was initially supporting the operation but once Uddhav Thackeray went to Matoshree Sports Club and Narayan Rane did not meet him to receive him there, he got upset. Rane suspects that after this Uddhav filled Balasaheb’s ears and then Balasaheb stopped supporting the operation. Rane also suspected Gopinath Munde that he was passing information related to the operation to the opposition camp. According to Rane, Gopinath Munde’s ambition was to become the chief minister himself, so he did not want Rane to become the chief minister again. Rane suspected that Munde was supporting the operation outwardly but secretly he was working against it.
Following this incident, criminal cases were registered against Rane on charges of kidnapping and atrocity. Of the two MLAs who had gone to Matoshree Sports Club along with the encounter specialist officers to rescue the NCP MLAs from Rane’s grip, one of them later became very scared about his security. In a panic, he sought help from Gopinath Munde. Munde made that MLA meet Rane at the Taj Mahal Hotel. Rane assured the MLA that nothing would happen to him.
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