BJP MLA Nitesh Rane today trained his guns at Maharashtra Minister Aditya Thackeray in a veiled attack regarding his visit to the Ram temple in Ayodhya. Without naming him, Mr Rane took a swipe at the young Minister using his version of a popular Hindi proverb that points to a person's hypocrisy. The MLA's tweet loosely translates to "after committing a hundred sins, the cat goes to Ayodhya to meow meow".
सौ पाप करके बिल्ली meow meow करने अयोध्या चली !!????????????— nitesh rane (@NiteshNRane) June 15, 2022
This is not the first time Mr Rane has made the "meow" remark for Aditya Thackeray. In December last year, he ignited a huge fight between the Sena and BJP after he "cat-called" Mr Thackeray when he was entering the Maharashtra assembly building. Then Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis had said that the BJP MLA would be reprimanded for his comments even though Mr Rane himself doubled down saying he would do it again.
While participating in a protest by BJP MLAs, Mr Rane had loudly "meowed" at the state Tourism Minister, drawing sniggers from other BJP leaders.
Aaditya Thackeray's Ayodhya visit assumes significance as it is the first solo visit of the 32-year-old Thackeray who the Sena presents as its future leader. It is being seen as a passing of the baton to the 32-year-old who was brought into politics by Sena patriarch Bal Thackeray, who was a Hindutva icon. Earlier, Aaditya Thackeray had visited Ayodhya along with his father, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.
Aaditya Thackeray will offer prayers at the Ram temple in Ayodhya at 5:30 this evening. Later he will also perform the Saryu Aarti in the evening following which he will return to Lucknow and head back to Mumbai. Mr Thackeray will also visit the Hanuman Garhi temple and Laxman Killa in Ayodhya.
Mr Rane's tweet comes at a time when the BJP and Mr Thackeray's party the Shiv Sena have been trading scathing insults on who is more aligned with the Hindutva ideology. The two parties have also been trying to corner each other over allegations of corruption and impropriety.
The Sena, which has been accused of moving away from Hindutva by the BJP, has hit back saying the BJP's Hindutva is fake. Mr Thackeray's visit to Ayodhya is being interpreted as the Shiv Sena's commitment to the Hindutva ideology as it accuses the BJP of double standards and using proxies like Raj Thackeray to target it.
Relations between the two parties worsened after the Sena parted ways and joined hands with the Nationalist Congress Party and Congress to form a government in Maharashtra. More recently, the row over playing Hanuman Chalisa saw the parties attacking each other publicly.
While PM Modi yesterday sharing stage with the Maharashtra Chief Minister was seen by many as a thaw between the two leaders after Uddhav Thackeray had strongly criticised now suspended BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma's objectionable comments on Prophet Muhammad, Mr Rane's potshot at Aditya Thackeray indicates tensions continue between the two parties.
Mr Rane on Thursday also tweeted a photograph of Sena leader Chandrakant Khaire standing with a bundle of cash in hand and surrounded by a few people. The photo, which was taken from a top angle and which does not clearly show anyone's face, was posted with a caption in Marathi that read, "Virat sabhecha formula" (formula for a grand rally), implying that people were paid to attend Uddhav Thackeray's rally held at Marathwada Sanskrutik Mandal ground in the city.