Union Minister Narayan Rane was arrested in Maharashtra on Tuesday over his comment on slapping Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray for what he called his "ignorance of the year India won Independence". The BJP leader later managed to get bail by a Mahad court late last night.
“It is shameful that the chief minister does not know the year of independence. He leaned back to enquire about the count of years of independence during his speech. Had I been there, I would have given (him) a tight slap," Rane exclaimed during his Jan Ashirwad Yatra in adjoining Raigad district on Monday.
The arrest of a union minister by the state police caused high drama across the state, as well as across political factions in the country.
This, however, is not the first time that a serving union minister has been arrested. Rane, in fact, is the third union minister in India to court arrest.
The first two were the late Murasoli Maran and TR Baalu. The duo was picked up at midnight by Chennai Police along with former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi in a highly publicised spectacle in June 2001.
A three-time Union Minister, veteran DMK leader Maran was the Union Minister for Industries at the time. He was also the maternal nephew of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi.
Meanwhile, TR Balu was the Union Minister for Environment and Forests.
Balu and Maran had been arrested along with Karunanidhi in connection to a Rs 12 crore "flyover scam". At the time, the arrest was widely broadcast and reported by news portals, especially the part about Maran being hospitalised after sustaining injuries during a scuffle with the cops who came to make the arrest.
With Rane's arrest, the BJP leader has become the first sitting union minister to be arrested in the past 20 years. Rane is currently the Union Minister for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME) in the Narendra Modi cabinet.
Similar to Rane's case, the arrest of the two union ministers in 2001 had also caused widespread condemnation.
"In spite of identifying me as the Union Minister, they did not care to produce the warrant of arrest and moreover they ill-treated and assaulted me'', Baalu had said in a statement, released to the press in Chennai at the time.
Stating that he was arrested at the residence of Maran, Baalu had said that "when (he) insisted for the reason and warrant for the arrest, the local police inspector and other senior officers pushed me, pulled my hands, dragged and threw me into the police vehicle...'' He said he needed medical treatment as he was having pain in the stock, leg and hip.
Notably, the Bharatiya Janata Party had also expressed shock over the manner in which the DMK leader and former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M Karunanidhi was arrested by the police at his residence.
"The Party condemns this inhuman behaviour of the police towards an aged and eminent political leader like Karunanidhi," senior party leader J P Mathur had been quoted by news agency PTI at the time.
(With inputs from PTI)