Four political parties – the BJP, JD(U), Shiv Sena and Congress – have got involved in the ongoing slugfest at the Centre and in the four states of Maharashtra, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh and West Bengal.
While the BJP and JD(U) are seen to be fighting for justice for Sushant Rajput, the Shiv Sena is targetting actress Kangana Ranaut for taking on the Udhav Thackeray-led Maharashtra government and the West Bengal unit of the Congress is defending Sushant’s girlfriend Rhea Chakraborty who originally hails from the state.
Sushant Singh Rajput’s death has already become an election issue in Bihar, the state he hailed from.
The Art and Culture Cell of the BJP’s Bihar unit has released stickers and masks featuring Sushant. The stickers and masks, captioned #JusticeForSushant and “Na bhule hain, na bhulne denge (We have neither forgotten, now will let people forget)”, are being distributed in different parts of the state.
The coalition government of the BJP and JD(U) in Bihar was prompt in acting following Rajput’s death. The Bihar police filed a case on the complaint of the deceased actor’s father Krishna Kumar Singh against Rhea and others for abetment to suicide. It also constituted a Special Investigation Team (SIT) before sending a team of four police officers to Mumbai to investigate the matter.
When Bihar cadre IPS officer Vinay Tiwari reached Mumbai to probe the case, he was quarantined for COVID-19. This prompted Nitish Kumar to condemn the act and say that the police officer was just carrying out his duty.
Subsequently, dissatisfied with the shoddy manner in which the Mumbai Police was handling the high-profile case, the Bihar government recommended an investigation by the CBI after Rajput’s father gave his approval for the same.
However, this was challenged by Rhea in the Supreme Court and she sought transfer of the case from Patna to Mumbai.
But the Supreme Court, in its August 19 judgment, upheld the transfer of the FIR lodged at Patna to the CBI.
Nitish Kumar hailed the Supreme Court order and said, “Nyay ki jeet huyi hai (Truth has triumphed).”
The epicentre of the action in Rajput’s death is Maharashtra’s capital Mumbai. The Shiv Sena-led government in the state is seen to be using its might and machinery to target Kangana Ranaut who alleged that the actor was murdered and also made some controversial claims about drug abuse in Bollywood.
Rajput’s death first echoed in political galleries of Maharashtra when BJP leader Ram Kadam asked the state government to grant police protection to Kangana as “she wanted to expose the Bollywood drug and movie mafia racket”.
But Kangana expressed distrust in the Mumbai Police. In a tweet she said, “After a major star has been killed I spoke about drug and movie mafia racket, I don’t trust Mumbai Police because they ignored SSR’s complaints. He told everyone they will kill him yet he was killed. If I feel unsafe, does that mean I hate the industry and Mumbai.”
Responding to her tweet, Shiv Sena Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Raut Raut attacked Kangana in an editorial in Shiv Sena’s mouthpiece Saamna and asked her to refrain from returning to Mumbai for criticising Mumbai Police. He also asked the Maharashtra government to take action against those defaming the Mumbai police.
Another Shiv Sena MLA Pratap Sarnaik warned Kangana, who was in Manali at that point in time, of consequences if she came down to Mumbai.
Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh also said Kangana had no right to stay in Mumbai.
Kangana issued a strong rebuttal to Raut’s attack. In a tweet, she said, “Sanjay Raut Shiv Sena leader has given me an open threat and asked me not to come back to Mumbai, after Aazadi graffiti in Mumbai streets and now open threats, why is Mumbai feeling like Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK)?”
In a video message, she said, “Mr Sanjay Raut, you called me ‘haramkhor ladki’. You know how many girls are raped every day in the country, how many of them are tortured and killed – sometimes by their own husbands. And you know who is responsible for all this? It is this mindset which you very shamelessly displayed in front of the entire country. The daughters of this country will never forgive you.”
On Raut’s warning not to visit Mumbai, she said. “Your people are threatening me, still I’ll come to Mumbai on September 9… Sanjay Raut ji, if I criticise Mumbai Police or if I criticise you, then you can’t say I am insulting Maharashtra. You aren’t Maharashtra.”
In the meantime, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) issued a 24-hour notice to Kangana before demolishing a portion of her house on the charges that it was an illegal construction.
The BJP criticised the Shiv Sena government over the demolition. Former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis said the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maharashtra government should focus on fighting coronavirus instead of Kangana.
The Union home ministry even provided Y category security cover to Kangana, who is now being shielded by about 10 commandos of the central security agencies round the clock.
Meanwhile, when Raut was asked whether he would apologise to Ranaut, he said, “If that girl (Kangana) apologises to Maharashtra then I will think about apologising. She has called Mumbai mini Pakistan. Does she have the courage to say the same about Ahmedabad?” Raut may have dragged Ahmedabad because it happens to be the most significant city of Gujarat, the home state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and home minister Amit Shah.
Further politicising Rajput’s death, Raut expressed dismay over the BJP for allegedly backing Kangana despite her comparing Mumbai to Pak-occupied Kashmir. He charged that these moves were being taken because of the forthcoming Bihar assembly elections.
He sought to make it a prestige issue for all Marathi-speaking people in Maharashtra. “This is a difficult period when all Marathi people in Maharashtra should unite,” he said.
Raut, who is also the executive editor of Saamna, levelled the charge that the BJP wished to garner the Rajput and Kshatriya votes and win the Bihar elections with their help. “While doing this, it doesn’t matter if Maharashtra is insulted. Not one Maharashtra (BJP) leader was sad over the manner in which the state has been humiliated… An actress humiliates the chief minister and people of the state shouldn’t react, what kind of one-sided freedom is this?
“When her illegal construction in the city, which she calls as Pakistan, is demolished, she calls the demolished structure Ram mandir. You are crying hoarse when there is a surgical strike on the illegal construction. What kind of a game is this?” he asked.
Taking issue with Raut’s comments, Kangana said in a tweet, “Wow!! Unfortunate that BJP is protecting someone who busted drug and mafia racket, BJP should instead let Shiv Sena goons break my face, rape or openly lynch me, nahin Sanjay ji? How dare they protect a young woman who is standing against the mafia!!!”
Wow!! Unfortunate that BJP is protecting someone who busted drug and mafia racket, BJP should instead let Shiv Sena… https://t.co/KHQB9Qmkth
— Kangana Ranaut (@KanganaTeam) 1599987404000
Kangana, meanwhile, decided to return to Himachal Pradesh. Expressing sorrow over leaving Mumbai and defending her use of PoK for the city, in a tweet she said, “With a heavy heart leaving Mumbai, the way I was terrorised all these days constant attacks and abuses hurled at me attempts to break my house after my work place, alert security with lethal weapons around me, must say my analogy about PoK was bang on.”
With a heavy heart leaving Mumbai, the way I was terrorised all these days constant attacks and abuses hurled at me… https://t.co/Qi4nL3jo41
— Kangana Ranaut (@KanganaTeam) 1600052618000
Kangana Ranaut is being offered help from the Himachal Pradesh government because she belongs to the state.
Before the Centre provided Y category security cover to Kangana, Himachal Pradesh chief minister Jairam Thakur offered protection to her on her father and sister’s request.
Thakur said in a virtual press conference, “Kangana Ranaut is a daughter of our state and her security is of utmost importance for us. After assessing her security threat, we have taken a decision that security would be deployed at her residence in Manali and if needed we are ready to give her security out of state also.”
He also said the state would not tolerate disrespect and torture of a daughter of the state. The Himachal Pradesh government requested the central government to provide security to Ranaut by paramilitary forces. The same was granted by the centre.
The West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee (WBPCC) has come out in full support of Rhea Chakraborty, saying she is a “daughter of the state. Led by newly-appointed president Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, who also is the leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha, the party took out a rally in support of he actress in Kolkata on September 12.
বাংলার মেয়ে রিয়া চক্রবর্তীর উপর রাজনৈতিক অভিসন্ধি ও প্রতিহিংসামূলক আচরণ বরদাস্ত করা হবে না।উক্ত দাবি নিয়ে আজ প… https://t.co/gXpcupaUIj
— West Bengal Congress (@INCWestBengal) 1599914477000
The WBPCC, in a tweet in Bangla, said, “Political conspiracy and vindictive behaviour against Rhea Chakraborty, the daughter of Bengal, will not be tolerated. The protest was taken up from the state Congress office to the Wellington junction on the instructions of Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, president of the West Bengal state Congress.”