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The Hindu
The Hindu
Shoumojit Banerjee

Rane-Thackeray rivalry spills over to Barsu row

A wordy duel has erupted between Union Minister and senior BJP leader Narayan Rane and his political rival Uddhav Thackeray and his Shiv Sena (UBT) faction over the proposed refinery project at Barsu in Maharashtra’s Ratnagiri district.

While Mr. Rane, who is Minister of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises, has warned Mr. Thackeray against setting foot in the Konkan, the Thackeray camp leader Sanjay Raut dared the BJP leader to stop Mr. Uddhav Thackeray “if he had the guts to do so.”

“Today, police oppression still continues against farmers while women are being threatened for opposing the proposed refinery at Barsu [in Ratnagiri’s Rajapur district]… Uddhav Thackeray is being threatened as well with some persons [read Mr. Rane] attempting to thwart his Konkan visit. Try and stop us if you have the guts… do not wave black flags from a distance,” said Mr. Raut.

The long-standing rivalry between the Rane and Thackeray clans spilled over to the Barsu issue with Mr. Raut taunting Mr. Rane by remarking that “no one owned the Konkan.”

Power centre

“It is the people’s wish that Uddhav ji will go to the Konkan. He is anyway coming to Mahad on May 6 for a rally…we [Sena (UBT)] keep coming and going hundreds of times to the Konkan… What can you do? Konkan is a power centre of the Shiv Sena and has always given it strength. Mumbai, Raigad, Sindhudurg and Ratnagiri is a belt of pride and self-respect for Marathi-speaking people,” said Mr. Raut, throwing down the gauntlet to Mr. Rane.

Once the undisputed ‘strongman’ of the Konkan, Mr. Rane, a former Shiv Sainik who joined the Congress before settling into the BJP, has seen his influence steadily wane over the past decade in the verdant coastal region. His exit from the Shiv Sena has coincided with increasingly virulent attacks on Mr. Thackeray.

Meanwhile, lashing out at Mr. Raut, MLA Nitesh Rane (who is Mr. Rane’s son) claimed that in 2019, Mr. Raut had reportedly put himself forward as a Chief Minister candidate through NCP chief Sharad Pawar.

“Mr. Pawar had even taken his [Mr. Raut’s] name before Uddhav Thackeray. However, Uddhav had quashed it. All he [Mr. Raut] knows is how to split families and spark fights between brothers,” said Mr. Nitesh Rane, alleging that Mr. Raut had allegedly caused a divide between Mr. Thackeray’s sons — Aaditya and Tejas Thackeray.

“At present, he is trying to divide the Pawar family by speaking against Ajit Pawar and claiming to bat for Sharad Pawar. But, both have put him in his place,” said Mr. Nitesh Rane.

Mr. Thackeray and the Sena (UBT) has been leading the Opposition MVA’s charge in protests against the proposed refinery.

However, the ruling Eknath Shinde-led Sena-BJP government has questioned Mr. Thackeray’s ‘double standards’ given that it was the former Chief Minister who had proposed Barsu as an alternative site to Nanar when he was helming the previous MVA regime.

Meanwhile, Shinde camp leader Uday Samant on Sunday said the Chief Minister would be meeting Mr. Sharad Pawar on Monday at the latter’s residence to discuss the issue.

Mr. Samant said he would be accompanying the Chief Minister.

Earlier this week, Mr. Samant had met the NCP supremo in Mumbai and had briefed him about the on-ground situation at Ratnagiri.

Mr. Pawar said that while the NCP did not oppose any project that was expected to bring benefits to the people of the Konkan region, one could not ignore the intensity of local opposition to a particular project.

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