Twitter users woke up on Friday morning to allegations made by comedy star Kapil Sharma that civic officers sought a bribe from him when he sought permission to build an office . The move, however, backfired for the actor, who later found himself at the receiving end of the civic body’s ire.
The popular star tagged Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a tweet saying he was asked to pay Rs5 lakh by the BMC to build his office. In the next tweet he asked, “Yeh hai aapke ache din?” (Are these your happy days?” Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis immediately took cognisance and assured him stern action would be taken and that he had directed the civic chief to look into the matter. Civic officials asked Sharma to furnish the names of the officers.
However, it was soon noted that Sharma himself was on the BMC’s radar for unauthorised extensions to his ground-plus-two storey office in Andheri (West). He was served a stop-work notice by the BMC for the illegal extensions in July. It eventually demolished them in August. Sources said civic chief Ajoy Mehta had a report ready on the illegal extensions, the procedure adopted by the civic officers and the demolition in August. Civic sources also said the area where the structure was located had restrictions on construction because it was under the Coastal Regulation Zone and if Sharma was found to be violating the rules, he could even face prosecution.
Political leaders sought to gain leverage from the issue with an eye on the 2017 BMC elections. It also led to verbal war on Twitter between those who were criticising the Shiv Sena-BJP-run civic body and the ones who trolled Sharma over his political comments.
The Raj-Thackeray led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) said they will not let Sharma shoot in Mumbai if he failed to prove his allegations that also mentioned an MNS worker taking a bribe. The Congress congratulated the star for speaking openly about corruption in the BMC. BJP MLA Ram Kadam also complained to the Mumbai police that Sharma should name the officials who demanded a bribe from him so that authorities can take action. Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray thanked Sharma and said he should reveal the name of the official.
The BMC, without an official complaint, issued a letter to Sharma asking him to reveal details of those involved. In a rare step, the civic body also tweeted asking the actor to give them details.
Following threats from the MNS, Sharma took to twitter again to say he is not blaming any political party. He tweeted, “I just voiced my concern on the corruption I faced with certain individuals. It is no blame on any political party be it BJP, MNS or Shiv Sena.” Earlier, Sharma had allegedly said to a TV channel that he had to pay a bribe to the Shiv Sena and the MNS also.
Sharma also thanked Fadnavis and said he would like to meet him personally to discuss the matter. He tweeted the same to Aaditya Thackeray.