Narayan Rane: Shiv Sena insider who turned enemy

Narayan Rane: Shiv Sena insider who turned enemy

Rane is known to maintain timings—literally and politically

Narayan Rane. Credit: PTI file photo

Sidelined and cornered several times in his long political career, Narayan Rane knows the art of making space for himself. He is a master of comebacks.

The 69-year-old Rane has seen successes and defeats and has occupied most of the top political posts in Maharashtra.

A perfectionist to the core, Rane has a huge collection of watches. He is known to maintain timings—literally and politically.

Rane, the minister for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in the Narendra Modi government, is the bete noire of Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray. 

Rane's "tight-slap slur" against Thackeray catapulted him to the front pages when he became the first sitting union minister from Maharashtra, and the first from India in two decades, to be arrested.

Read | Narayan Rane’s arrest was uncalled for

Rane, the Konkan strongman, who dons a waistcoat over a white half-shirt and black trousers as his trademark attire, has a penchant for good clothes, suits and jackets, usually tailored as per his design.

Though blessed with elephantine memory, the six-time legislator always keeps a small notebook in his pocket to write important things for his own reference.

Besides being a hardcore politician, Rane is an agriculturist, businessman, educationist, hotelier, and newspaper owner. Born on April 10, 1952, in a humble family, Rane is a matriculate who owned a chicken shop in Chembur before entering politics.

During the recent controversy, when Shiv Sainiks put up a poster saying “komdi-chor” (chicken thief), he chose not to respond to it. 

In his younger days, Rane was alleged to be a part of the Harya-Narya gang operating in the Chembur area. He refutes the claim saying if he was a gangster why did the Shiv Sena make him the chief minister. 

He entered politics through Shiv Sena. He was a corporator of the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) from 1985-90 and subsequently the chairman of the BrihanMumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST).

Explained | The rivalry between Rane and Thackeray

When the erstwhile Shiv Sena-BJP alliance government came to power under Dr Manohar Joshi, Rane became the Dairy Development, Animal Husbandry, Fisheries and Khar Lands minister, and later got the crucial Revenue and Rehabilitation portfolio.

When Dr Joshi was removed as chief minister, Rane got the chance and assumed the position between February 1, 1999, and October 17, 1999.

Incidentally, in 1999, the Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha plus were held together and the saffron alliance lost and the Congress-NCP Democratic Front government came to power for 15 years, till 2014—which saw four chief ministers—Vilasrao Deshmukh, Sushilkumar Shinde, Ashok Chavan, and Prithviraj Chavan.

Rane became the Leader of Opposition and tried to topple the Congress-NCP government but miserably failed. However, he became a thorn in the path of Uddhav's political ambitions. In 2005, Balasaheb threw him out of Shiv Sena for raising revolt.

Rane then had two options—Sharad Pawar-led NCP which had several second-rung leaders, and Congress, which he chose ultimately. There he became the Revenue minister of Maharashtra under Deshmukh. Later, he was allotted the Industries department. 

In Congress, Rane’s grudge was that he was never made the chief minister or Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) President as promised.

In 2018, he finally resigned from Congress majorly owing to differences with Ashok Chavan and floated Maharashtra Swabhiman Paksha (MSP) to join the NDA. Subsequently, he was given the Rajya Sabha berth by the BJP.

Rane’s older son Dr Nilesh Rane is a former MP from Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg and his younger son is BJP MLA from Kankavli. A family man, Rane’s hotel is named after his wife Neelam.

There are several qualities that earned him respect—but this "short temper" often leads to problems. His confidantes say that Rane does not waste a single minute. He sometimes loses his temper but cools down immediately, but in the process, he has lost many close aides.

Rane believes in having experts to work with him, including chartered accountants, lawyers, retired IAS officers and subject-matter experts.

"When he became the Revenue minister in 1996, he felt the need to keep up with the latest in the subject and took experts on the roll," said a confidante.

The family insider added that Rane has a great "intelligence network" and gets to know many things beforehand.

In fielding Rane for Jan Ashirvad Yatra, BJP's intentions have been quite clear—unsettle the Shiv Sena and hit them politically where it hits most.

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