New Delhi: The Shiv Sena-controlled Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) decision to raze portions of actress Kangana Ranaut’s house in Mumbai, an hour before the Bombay high court had scheduled her plea on Wednesday, has invited criticism from ally and veteran leader Sharad Pawar. The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief questioned the timing of the BMC’s move, said that it sent out a wrong message, and gave the actress “unnecessary publicity”.
Pawar’s disapproval assumes significance as he is also believed to be the most important person holding the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena-NCP-Congress’s coalition government in the state together.
Referring to the hysteric attacks on the state government by a large section of the media, opposition parties, and film personalities like Kangana over the death of Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput, Pawar said, “I have [an] objection to the media’s coverage. The media made these things bigger. We should ignore such things.”
However, he added that although the BMC acted according to the rules, the timing of the demolition could have been different. His criticism came at a time when a 24×7 frenzied coverage of Sushant’s death has strongly polarised views in the country. Kangana has been alleging that the Shiv Sena-led state government has been shielding Bollywood’s elite coterie, whom she holds responsible for Sushant’s alienation and eventual death by suicide.
“Illegal constructions are 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, who later met the chief minister to discuss the issue.
Commenting on Kangana’s criticism of the Mumbai Police, Pawar said, “We are giving too much importance to the people making such statements.”
“In my view, people don’t take such statements seriously. They have an experience of years of police force and are aware how dutiful they are. We don’t need to take it seriously even if someone is saying that very often [that the Mumbai police is incompetent],” Pawar said.
On Wednesday morning, a BMC team reached Kangana’s Pali Hill residence and demolished parts of the building which it said were built without requisite permissions. Mumbai mayor Kishori Pednekar alleged that the actress was given 24 hours to produce documents but she failed to do so. The BMC later listed 14 violations by Kangana.
The demolition drive drew sharp responses on social media, with messages of support for Kangana flooding the internet. Questions that have been raised include if the BMC gave the actress enough time to respond or not, since she has been living in her Manali residence during the lockdown. The BMC’s move was also criticised as “political vendetta” as Kangana had announced on Twitter last week that she would return to Mumbai on September 9 for the court case.
Pawar’s criticism may hold true because, since the demolition, Kangana has posted several sharp posts attacking the Shiv Sena government, challenging Thackeray and claiming that Mumbai resembles Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK). Later in the day, the Bombay high court’s stay order on the demolition work until September 30 drew greater support for the actress.