Union MSME Minister Narayan Rane paid homage to Shiv Sena supremo late Balasaheb Thackeray at his memorial here on Thursday and later claimed the BJP will win the forthcoming polls to the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, currently ruled by the Sena.
Earlier, Sena MP Vinayak Raut had opposed Mr Rane's visit to the memorial at the Shivaji Park in Dadar area, saying he had no right to pay respects to Balasaheb Thackeray as the BJP leader's actions of "breaking the Shiv Sena" caused a lot of pain to the party founder.
But, Sena's Dadar MLA Sada Sarvankar said he had no directives from the party leadership to prevent Mr Rane from visiting the memorial, during the latter's ''Jan Ashirwad Yatra'' in the city.
Former Maharashtra chief minister Narayan Rane, who was earlier with the Sena before joining the Congress and subsequently switching over to the BJP in 2019, also visited Hindutva ideologue V D Savarkar's memorial located nearby.
Later, talking to reporters, Mr Rane said Balasaheb Thackeray may not be physically present, but he will bless him to do good work.
"Through my ministry, I will work for generating employment opportunities. The BJP will win the BMC (Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation) polls and the job of ensuring it is with all the BJP leaders, including myself," he said.
Referring to Vinayak Raut's comments that the Sena will prevent him from coming to the Shivaji Park, Mr Rane said when it comes to paying tributes, people's sentiments must be respected.
"Speak directly what you want to say. Don't ask your left or right to talk," he said in a veiled attack on state Chief Minister and Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray.
"The BJP will win the BMC polls and end the sins committed over 32 years," asserted Mr Rane, who was recently inducted into the Union cabinet.
To a question on the Chief Minister's comments that political gatherings must be avoided in view of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr Rane said, "Those who have come to power through backdoor shouldn't preach us. Seeing the response to the ''Jan Ashirwad Yatra'', one must understand their days are numbered."
The Shiv Sena fell out with the BJP after the state Assembly polls in 2019 over the issue of sharing the chief ministerial post, and subsequently tied-up with the NCP and Congress to form the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government in the state.
Mr Rane's tour is being seen a major show of strength by the BJP ahead of the crucial BMC polls, due early next year.
His yatra was flagged off by Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly Devendra Fadnavis from the city airport.
Addressing party workers after reaching Kalanagar in suburban Bandra near the residence of CM Uddhav Thackeray, Mr Rane sought the blessings of BJP workers for the civic polls.
BJP's Trupti Sawant, who had defeated Mr Rane when he was in the Congress and she was a member of the Shiv Sena, in the Bandra (East) Assembly byelection few years ago, was present at Kalanagar along with BJP leader Kripashankar Singh.
Mr Rane said he would use his MSME portfolio for the welfare of Marathi people and improvement of the country's GDP.
"In two years, the present (MVA) government has taken the state backwards. People of Mumbai will teach you a lesson in the forthcoming BMC polls. You shouldn't speak things which you cannot do," he said.
Apart from Mumbai, Mr Rane will also visit the state's Konkan region during his seven-day tour.
Earlier this week, Union ministers Bharti Pawar, Kapil Patil and Bhagwat Karad, who were also recently inducted into the Union cabinet, toured different parts of the state.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)