Relief to Actress Kangana Ranaut in BMC Demolition Case, Maharashtra CM Slams Opposition for “Vindictive Politics”

MUMBAI, Nov 27: In a victory of sorts for the Bollywood actress Kangana Ranaut, alleged to had been “targeted” by the Shiv Sena-led Maharashtra government, the Bombay high court on Friday set aside the demolition notice sent to her by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation and also accepted her demand for compensation for the damages caused to her office in the demolition undertaken by the civic body.

A division bench comprising justices S J Kathawalla and R I Chagla felt that pat demolition of her office in suburban Bandra smacked of “malafide intent” and set aside the September 9 notification by the civic body to her for the removal of the alleged “unauthorized structure.” The court after verifying the photographs of before and after the demolition said the petitioner needed to take permissions from the BMC for alterations made in the sanctioned plans but said enough time was also not given to her between issuance of the notice and the demolition action initiated by the civic body. “The civic body has proceeded to act wrongfully and illegally against the rights of a citizen,” the bench said.

The court passed an order for the appointment of a valuer to ascertain the damages caused in the demolition. It also asked the actor to maintain restraint in her criticism of the  civic body and the government.

The court also commented on Kangana’s allegations that the action (partial demolition of her office) was a reaction to her opinions expressed on social media. “The notice issued by BMC officer, and pasting of that on her bungalow, the reply to the notice, order of demolition of property, arrangements made to demolition, commencement of demolition, attempt to delay hearing, ensuring 40% demolition, demolition of the bungalow, supports petitioner’s case that the demolition was in reaction to that,” it said.

Ranaut had filed the petition on September 9 when the demolition process was initiated by BMC. The court had in an interim order on September 9 stayed the demolition work.

Though not directly related with the Ranaut case, Maharashtra chief minister and the Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, meanwhile has cautioned the opposition that they should not “compel” him to “go after them.” Kangana herself and the BJP in her case and on several other issues including the Enforcement Directorate raids on Sena legislator Pratap Sarnaik had launched scathing attack on the Sena and Thackeray personally.

In an interview to the Sena mouthpiece “Saamana” on the occasion of his completing one year in the office on Friday, Thackeray said being engaged with several other administrative matters, particularly in battling against the Corona pandemic, he was keeping “close eye” on the political developments in the state. He alleged that the central agencies were being misused in the country and the manner in which families were being targeted showed “vindictive” politics of opposition (party in the state).

The interview taken by the “Saamana” executive editor and Sena spokesman Sanjay Raut, covered a wide range of issues including Mumbai civic polls, targeting of his family in the Sushant Singh Rajput case, “love jihad”, Anvay Naik’s case, the performance and plans of the state government, and other issues. Thackeray’s son and Maharashtra minister Aaditya Thackeray was indirectly linked to Sushant’s death case by some members of the BJP and social media campaign was created to target him.

Thackeray said he did not want to resort to vindictive politics. He said he get “energised” when he was challenged. “We do not want to get into vindictive politics but if you force us, we will use Sudarshan chakra [mythological weapon] against your vindictiveness,” he said.

In a veiled reference to prime minister Narendra Modi and home minister Amit Shah, Thackeray said others should remember the cases against them and how Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray supported [PM] Modi.

“Practice politics like it should be. If you are going to misuse power then one must remember that power does not remain forever. Even they faced cases earlier, and they must remember how Shiv Sena chief saved them,” he said, adding that the “real power” is the people, which is with them.

Responding to a question on the criticism of the Opposition that the CM is merely asking people to wash hands regularly, Thackeray said, “Right now, I am only asking to wash hands… if such attack continues, I will come after them.”

Speaking on the death of Rajput and the controversy that followed, Thackeray said, “I look at the entire issue with pity. This is a tendency of profiting from the dead. Such people are not worthy. One young boy lost his life and they are politicising it. It is dirty and perverted politics.”

On the Anvay Naik suicide abetment case in which Republic TV editor Arnab Goswami is one of the accused, Thackeray slammed the former BJP government for sweeping the case under the carpet. “One Marathi businessman was cheated by outsiders. He died by suicide and wrote a note. You push the case under the carpet and those who ask for reinvestigation, you make ED run behind them. You want us to turn a blind eye?” he said, referring to Sarnaik who demanded the reopening the case.

Attacking the BJP over the issue of inter-faith marriages, Thackeray said that alliance of different political ideologies work for BJP, but not marriage between a Muslim boy and a Hindu girl. Responding to the demand that Maharashtra government should bring a law against inter-faith marriages, Thackeray said, “We can make a law on it but first tell us when you [central government] will bring in anti-cow slaughter law? Why don’t you make a law in Goa, you have a government there? Enforce it from Kashmir to Kanyakumari,” he said.

On the continuing criticism that Sena had abandoned Hindutva ideology by allying with NCP and Congress, Thackeray said that it was not loincloth to change. “Hindutva is not a dhoti (loincloth) to change. It is in our blood and veins. I follow my father’s and grandfather’s concept of Hindutva. They said we do not want a [temple] bell tolling Hindutva, we want a Hindutva that will finish off terrorists and my father proved it in 1992-93. When no one was coming forward to accept the demolition of Babri, he did it. Ram Mandir happened due to the court’s decision. No political party should take credit for it,” Thackeray said.

(Manas Dasgupta)