Amid row over the partial demolition of actor Kangana Ranaut's Mumbai office by the civic body Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation earlier this week, BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis has targeted the Uddhav Thackeray government. "You don't go to demolish Dawood's home, but want to demolish the actor's house," the ex-Maharashtra chief minister said, referring to the underworld don.
"Maharashtra government thinks the state is not fighting coronavirus... rather actor Kangana (Ranaut). Today, the highest number of coronavirus cases are in Maharashtra. Everyday, a surge between 23,000-25,000 cases is being recorded. Forty per cent of Covid-linked deaths in the country are being recorded from Maharashtra," the 50-year-old BJP leader told reporters. With 9.9 lakh cases logged so far, Maharashtra is the worst-hit state by the outbreak.
"But Maharashtra government doesn't want to fight it... they are fighting Kangana. I want to tell them... as much energy they are wasting on fighting the actor, even if they spend half of it to control the outbreak, the state can save many lives. They should get their priorities right," he said.
Replying to a question on the allegations that the BJP is trying to rake up sentiments in Bihar over actor Sushant Singh Rajput's death, Mr Fadnavis said: "The BJP never raised the Kangana Ranaut issue. Why is Maharashtra government giving controversial statements in the matter - that she should not come to Mumbai. Kangana is not a national political leader, yet this issue was highlighted so much. You don't go to demolish Dawood's home, but want to demolish the actor's house. Who fanned the issue? How is the BJP linked?"
NCP chief Sharad Pawar today said the state government had "no role to play in the demolition". "The decision was taken by the BMC. State government had no role in it. The civic body did it following its rules and regulations," Mr Pawar was quoted as saying by news agency ANI. Earlier, speaking to reporters, Mr Pawar had said the move by the BMC had ended up giving the actor "unnecessary publicity".
On Thursday, Bombay High Court stopped the demolition of Ms Ranaut's Pali office; the court will the matter again on September 22.
The 33-year-old actor claimed that Wednesday's demolition by the Shiv Sena-controlled Brihanmumbai Corporation was just vendetta.
In its judgment on Wednesday, the High Court said the manner in which the BMC proceeded to begin the demolition work "prima facie does not appear to be bonafide and smacks of malafide".
Ms Ranaut's statement that she was "scared to live in Mumbai" had escalated the battle between Ms Ranaut and the Shiv Sena. She compared the country's financial capital to Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir.
The Sena had lashed out, with the Maharashtra home minister Anil Desmukh, suggesting that the actor -- who was at her hometown Manali -- not return to Mumbai.
Ahead of her return to Mumbai, Ms Ranaut had thanked Union Home Minister Amit Shah after she got Y-Plus category security. "This proves that a patriot's voice cannot be crushed by fascists. I am grateful to Amit Shah, if he wanted, he could have advised me to go to Mumbai after a few days but he respected a daughter of India, protected her pride and self-respect. Jai Hind," she had tweeted in Hindi.