Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut today condemned Uttar Pradesh Police’s manhandling of Rahul Gandhi, saying that while his party might have “differences” with the Congress and he understood that a “law and order situation” existed in the area, the cops’ treatment of a national leader was unacceptable.
“Rahul Gandhi is a national leader. We may have differences with them (the Congress) but a national figure from a leading family is going to meet someone. The way he was stopped… the way we saw it on TV… is unacceptable. His collar was caught and he was pushed to the ground,” Mr Raut told news agency ANI.
“No one can support what happened to him. He is Indira Gandhi’s grandson. He is Rajiv Gandhi’s son. I accept that Section 144 (prohibitory orders banning large gatherings) is in place and that there is a law and order situation… but what happened cannot be supported,” Mr Raut added.
#WATCH Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut says, “Rahul Gandhi is a national political leader. We may have differences with Congress but nobody can support Police’s behaviour with him…His collar was caught & he was pushed to the ground, in a way it’s gangrape of country’s democracy.” pic.twitter.com/qhcC8qLiqi
— ANI (@ANI) October 2, 2020
Mr Gandhi, who was yesterday marching to the Hathras district in UP – where the torture and murder of a 20-year-old Dalit girl has triggered nationwide outrage – was stopped in Greater Noida (near Delhi) and briefly detained.
Dramatic visuals showed Mr Gandhi, who was accompanied by his sister, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, being pushed by cops and falling to the ground.
“Why are you arresting me? What are the grounds for the arrest? What law am I violating,” he demanded during the heated exchange with policemen who said they were charging him with “Section 188” – a law on defying official orders.
The incident was condemned by several political leaders, including the NCP’s Sharad Pawar. “Reckless behavior of UP police towards Congress leader Rahul Gandhi is extremely condemnable. It is reprehensible for those who are supposed to uphold the law to trample upon democratic values in such a manner,” Mr Pawar tweeted.
Reckless behaviour of UP Police towards @INCIndia leader Shri @RahulGandhi is extremely condemnable. It is reprehensible for those who are supposed to uphold the law to trample upon the democratic values in such a manner.
— Sharad Pawar (@PawarSpeaks) October 1, 2020
Mr Raut’s Shiv Sena rules Maharashtra in a fragile alliance with the ideologically disparate Congress and NCP (Nationalist Congress Party). The three formed the government after a fallout between the Sena and long-time allies BJP (in power in UP) over power-sharing.
However, the relationship between the two (Sena and Congress) remains uneasy, with Mr Gandhi’s comments earlier this year pounced upon by the opposition as a sign of discord in the ruling alliance.
“I would like to make a differentiation here. We are supporting the government in Maharashtra, but we are not the key decision maker… There is a difference between running the government and supporting it,” he said in response to questions on Maharashtra’s Covid crisis and possible disagreements on tackling it.
Last week Mr Raut met Devendra Fadnavis, the former Maharashtra Chief Minister and a senior BJP leader, in Mumbai, in a meeting that he first said was “not political” and about which, days later, he asked “is it a sin to discuss politics?”
With input from ANI