The demolition move targeting actor Kangana Ranaut this morning appears to have divided Maharashtra's ruling coalition, with ally Sharad Pawar expressing disapproval of the action by the Shiv Sena-controlled civic body. The NCP chief met with Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and another Shiv Sena leader, Sanjay Raut and the controversy did come up.
Sources said the leaders discussed that the demolition was "not a state issue, so shouldn't be given importance". Also, the BMC is an independent body, the sources said.
Earlier, speaking to reporters, Mr Pawar said the move by the BMC or Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation had ended up giving the actor "unnecessary publicity".
"Illegal constructions not a new thing in Mumbai. But acting upon it at the backdrop of the ongoing controversy, gives rise to questions. But BMC has their own reasons and rules and they acted as per them" the NCP chief said. "I have objection to media's coverage. Media made these things bigger. We should ignore such things," said Mr Pawar, suggesting that though the civic body acted "as per rules", the timing of the demolition drive had sent out a wrong message to the public.
In the middle of a huge row between Kangana Ranaut and the Shiv Sena over her "Mumbai feels like PoK" comments, the BMC on Wednesday sent teams to the actor's office to demolish "illegal alterations". The action, timed with her Mumbai return, appears to have backfired spectacularly.
The Bombay High Court put a stop to the demolition in a big win for Kangana Ranaut, who promptly posted a video lashing out at the Chief Minister.
"Uddhav Thackeray, tujhe kya lagta hai? (what do you think?) That you colluded along with the film mafia, demolished my home and took revenge on me? My home was demolished today, your arrogance will crumble tomorrow," Kangana Ranaut said.
The actor, known for controversies and a running feud with Bollywood insiders, even received support from critics.
Kangana comparing Mumbai to POK is not acceptable. But there is absolutely no doubt that @mybmc moving to suddenly conduct a demolition of areas of her office space is totally questionable. Why now? Why like this? What were you doing all this while if there were irregularities?— Dia Mirza (@deespeak) September 9, 2020
The BMC had listed 14 "violations" at her office, which included a toilet apparently built in space marked for a kitchen and an office set up in an area meant for a toilet.
Mumbai Mayor Kishori Pednekar told NDTV that she had failed to produce documents "within 24 hours".
But the BMC move raised questions like whether the actor had been given enough time, since she had been out of Mumbai for months, and why no action was taken earlier. The BMC was also called out over the timing of its action, since Kangana Ranaut had announced her date of return last week.
The 33-year-old actor, sharing images on her Twitter handle, tweeted photos of the demolition with captions like "Pakistan..." and "Babur and his army".
The actor's fight with the Shiv Sena started when she criticized the handling of the Sushant Singh Rajput case by the Mumbai police and state government and said she feared living in Mumbai. Not just the Sena, even state Home Minister Anil Deshmukh of the NCP had said the actor should "not return to Mumbai if she feels unsafe".