Mumbai: Actor Kangana Ranaut’s spat with Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut has spawned a slugfest between the Maharashtra-based party and its former ally Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The entire controversy stems from Kangana’s claims about the presence of an alleged drug mafia in Bollywood, which she has talked about in connection with the investigation into actor Sushant Singh Rajput’s death.
It started with Kangana’s claim that she “feared Mumbai Police more than the movie mafia”, following which the Shiv Sena said she shouldn’t live in the Maharashtra capital if that were the case.
Since then, Kangana has drawn a parallel between Mumbai and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, which has triggered a more vehement response from the Shiv Sena, leading it to allege that the actor’s Twitter account is actually operated by the BJP IT cell. Shiv Sena MLA Pratap Sarnaik, quoting Raut, has said that members of the party might “break her face” if she enters Mumbai.
Sanjay Raut Shiv Sena leader has given me an open threat and asked me not to come back to Mumbai, after Aazadi graffitis in Mumbai streets and now open threats, why Mumbai is feeling like Pakistan occupied Kashmir? https://t.co/5V1VQLSxh1
— Kangana Ranaut (@KanganaTeam) September 3, 2020
On Friday, National Commission for Women (NCW) chair Rekha Sharma posted a screenshot that purportedly contained a lynching threat directed at Kangana, attributed to Sarnaik. Sharma also called for Sarnaik’s immediate arrest.
कंगनाला खासदार @rautsanjay61 नी सौम्य शब्दांत समज दिली.ती इथे आली तर आमच्या रणरागिणी तिचे थोबाड फोडल्याशिवाय राहणार नाहीत. उद्योजक व सेलेब्रिटी घडवणाऱ्या मुंबईची तुलना पाकव्याप्त काश्मीरशी करणाऱ्या कंगनावर देशद्रोही म्हणून गुन्हा दाखल करण्याची मी गृहमंत्र्यांना मागणी करणार आहे.
— Pratap Sarnaik (@PratapSarnaik) September 4, 2020
— Rekha Sharma (@sharmarekha) September 4, 2020
Sarnaik hit back Saturday. “BJP has hatched a plan to arrest me using the NCW. But bear in mind, I am willing to go to prison any number of times for the self respect of Mumbai and Maharashtra,” he tweeted.
भाजपने राष्ट्रीय महिला आयोगाला हाताशी धरून मला अटक करायचा खेळ रचला आहे. पण लक्षात ठेवा, मुंबई आणि महाराष्ट्राच्या अस्मितेसाठी मला कितीही वेळा तुरुंगात जावे लागले तरी मी तयार आहे #आमचीमुंबई
— Pratap Sarnaik (@PratapSarnaik) September 5, 2020
Referring to the screenshot shared by Sharma, Sarnaik added, “(The) first point in your screenshot shared is fake and a sad attempt to spread malicious lies and incite communal disharmony on the behest of BJP. I have never said anything like this and request you to immediately delete it.”
@sharmarekha Ji First point in your screenshot shared is fake and a sad attempt to spread malicious lies and incite communal disharmony on the behest of BJP. I have never said anything like this and request you to immediately delete it. https://t.co/Vx7HMRKFSR
— Pratap Sarnaik (@PratapSarnaik) September 5, 2020
Speaking to ThePrint, Sarnaik said the BJP is using Kangana as a weapon to politically attack the Shiv Sena. “We have information that the Twitter handle of Kangana Ranaut (@KanganaTeam) is actually operated by the BJP’s IT cell,” he said.
“Even the NCW chairperson directly ordered my arrest without bothering to understand what I have said. This clearly shows political motives,” he added.
Raut made a similar claim in conversation with reporters Saturday. “One should operate their own Twitter handle instead of giving it to the IT team of a political party,” he said.
Asked about Kangana’s allegation, Raut told ThePrint Thursday that he had “never mentioned Kangana Ranaut even once”.
“I just said if someone doesn’t have any trust in the Mumbai Police they shouldn’t take their protection, and if someone wants protection by some other state police, then they should go to another state. This statement is applicable to anyone — actors, politicians or anyone else.”
‘Associating BJP with Kangana’s statement unfortunate’
The BJP, meanwhile, has dismissed attempts to link Kangana’s statement with the party.
Former BJP Minister Ashish Shelar told reporters Friday, “Kangana need not preach to Mumbai, Mumbaikars and Maharashtra. Associating BJP with Kangana Ranaut’s or anyone else’s statements trying to preach to Mumbai, Mumbaikars and Maharashtra is extremely unfortunate and wrong. We are not agreeable with it.”
He, however, took a potshot at Raut, adding, “I also want to tell Sanjay Raut that there’s no need to stab Kangana Ranaut in the back just to take the inquiry in a different direction. Everyone must refrain from doing anything that will fuel tensions in relation with such an inquiry.”
Reacting to Shelar’s comments, Raut said Saturday, “Ashish Shelar should say this a little louder. Maharashtra is theirs too. Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj does not belong to any one party or caste but to this country and this state. If any person is going to say something about Maharashtra in such filthy words, then it becomes an issue for the whole state, not just for the Shiv Sena alone.”
Since Rajput’s death on 14 June, Mumbai Police has been at the receiving end of brickbats and allegations from certain news channels that claim it overlooked crucial evidence in the case. The investigation has now been handed over to the CBI.
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