'I am still someone who will open my mouth and speak if I find something is wrong or I dislike anything. Nothing can make me quiet,' Maharashtra Minister Narayan Rane, whose son Nitesh was arrested in Goa this week, tells Neeta Kolhatkar.
Narayan Rane, the former Shiv Sena chief minister of Maharashtra, moved to the Congress after falling out with party Executive President Uddhav Thackeray.
In the Congress regime, Rane has been the revenue minister and is now industry minister. Rane has had his troubles adjusting to the culture of India's grand old party. His chief ministerial ambitions have been stymied.
In this interview with Neeta Kolhatkar, Rane says both his sons, Nilesh and Nitesh, will contest the parliamentary and assembly elections.
You have become a silent leader in recent times. Has the Congress party made you quiet or is it your circumstances?
I am still someone who will open my mouth and speak if I find something is wrong or I dislike anything. Nothing can make me quiet.
Yes, the one thing I don't do is not speak to the media. Also by lying low if one can get work done, then why not? It also befits the Congress party culture and the high command.
The media doesn't get any fodder, that is the only difference.
I am 100 percent with the Congress. I never do anything half heartedly. Once I joined here, my loyalties are with the high command and the party.
Why are you anti-media? Do you think the media is biased against you?
Yes, of course. There were deliberate leaks being given to the media, from many sections. It was obvious that the media was being fed an agenda.
Now that I don't speak to the media a perception is portrayed that I have quietened down. I have no problems with it.
You have made one son a member of Parliament, while the other you could have accommodated in the party and yet you didn't. What are the future plans for both your sons?
That is not wholly true. Earlier, Nitesh returned from his studies from abroad and he came into the party and he contested the elections. Now he has joined the party and is working for the Congress.
Meanwhile, Nilesh finished his studies and returned from London and he contested the parliamentary elections and became an MP.
This time round, both Nilesh and Nitesh will contest. Nitesh will contest the assembly elections and Nilesh the Lok Sabha elections.
What about you? Will we see you in a new role?
Wait, there is still time for the elections. I will reveal my plans only later.
I have no idea how you envisage me in a different leadership role. I will reveal it at the right time.
Right now, I don't want you all to speculate. But yes, I confirm both my sons will contest the elections.
After you left the Shiv Sena, there has been a huge dent in the Sena. What do you think of Uddhav Thackeray's leadership qualities?
I have left the Shiv Sena and it won't be right for me to comment on it or their leader Uddhav. I don't want to say anything, good or bad, because without me wanting to express or predict anything.
The party is on a downslide due to its own making. Let it happen, why should I bother?
A leader needs to introspect why something is happening and especially when a party like the Shiv Sena is eroding.
Hypothetically speaking, if you and Chhagan Bhujbal (another Sena leader who defected to the Nationalist Congress Party and is now a state minister) had remained in the Sena, do you think you would have strengthened the party and made a difference to Maharashtra politics?
These are all ifs and buts, it is not good to predict. (Chuckles.) Bhujbal quit and joined the NCP, I quit to join the Congress party. We both are strong leaders with a mass base.
Of course, if we were with the Shiv Sena right now, the party would have been formidable and definitely made a difference. Today it is a mediocre party.