The actress is locked in a bitter war of words with the ruling Shiv Sena over her comments on the Mumbai Police after the death of actor Sushant Singh Rajput.
After Sena MP Sanjay Raut reportedly asked Ranaut not to return to Mumbai for comparing the city to Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (Pok), the actress had dared anybody to stop her when she reaches here on September 9.
"RPI (A) workers have geared up to protect Ranaut who is scheduled to reach Mumbai on Wednesday. Our party workers will offer protection to her at the airport as well as at her residence," Athawale said in a statement.
Athawale's party is an ally of the BJP in the Centre and in Maharashtra.
Earlier, Sena MLA Pratap Sarnaik had issued a slap threat after the actress dared anyone to stop her when she returns to Mumbai.
The Centre on Monday decided to provide Y-plus category security to the actress.
While lashing out at the Sena-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government, Athawale said, "Ranaut did not criticise the Mumbai city but the state government. It's against the democratic principles to oppose her right to live here on the grounds of her critical remarks against the government. She has all the rights to live here in Mumbai".
The Union minister also claimed that Ranaut had thanked him for offering her protection in Mumbai.
"Shiv Sena spokesperson Sanjay Raut shouldn't have threatened the actress over her right to live in Mumbai," he added.
The trouble started after the actress said she didn't trust Mumbai Police following the death of Rajput and that she feared them more than the "movie mafia".
Reacting strongly to her comment, Sanjay Raut had purportedly said, "We kindly request her not to come to Mumbai. This is nothing but an insult to Mumbai Police."
Hitting back, Ranaut tweeted, "Why is Mumbai feeling like Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir?"
The tweet evoked strong reaction from leaders of the Sena and ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government.
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