After furore, Sanjay Raut withdraws his statement on Indira Gandhi
Several Congress leaders hit out at Sanjay Raut prompting him to withdraw his statement, saying that his statement was “twisted”.Updated: Jan 17, 2020 00:26 IST
Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut on Thursday sought to withdraw his statement that former prime minister late Indira Gandhi had met Karim Lala, a Pathan leader with underworld links, after his comment drew sharp reactions from the Congress.
Several Congress leaders hit out at Raut prompting him to withdraw his statement, saying that his statement was “twisted”.
During an interview to a Marathi newspaper in Pune, Raut had on Wednesday said, “There was a time when Chhota Shakeel, Dawood Ibrahim, Sharad Shetty used to decide who would be police commissioner of Mumbai and who would sit in Mantralaya. Indira Gandhi had gone to meet Karim Lala in South Mumbai.”
Congress leader Milind Deora took to Twitter to hit back at Raut. “Indira ji was a true patriot who never compromised on India’s national security. As former @INCMumbai President, I demand that @rautsanjay61 ji withdraws his ill-informed statement. Political leaders must show restraint before distorting the legacies of deceased Prime Ministers,” Deora tweeted.
Congress leader and state revenue minister Ashok Chavan said: “We are willing to pay any price but won’t tolerate insult of our national leaders.”
Following the backlash, Raut on Thursday morning sought to clarify his comments. He said that they were “twisted” by those unaware of Mumbai’s history, as he meant that the former Prime Minister met gangster Karim Lala in the city as Lala was a representative of the Pathan community.
Later, Raut retracted his statement. “On many occasions when Indira ji was criticised, many Congress leaders have remained silent. On those occasions, I have come forward and advocated. If someone thinks that Indira ji’s image has been dented by what I said, or if someone’s sentiments were hurt, I withdraw my statement,” the Rajya Sabha MP said.
Reacting to the controversy, Maharashtra Congress chief Balasaheb Thorat said Raut should be cautious before making any such “derogatory” statements.
“Raut should be careful while making any such statement in the future. We would not tolerate any such derogatory statement about our national leaders. Indiraji was a tall leader who had taken strict action against the criminals in Mumbai and at the national level,” he said.
“Not only Karim Lala but Indiraji ensured that dons like Haji Mastan and Yusuf Patel were put behind the bars,” Thorat added.
Meanwhile, picking up on Raut’s statement, former chief minister and leader of opposition in the state assembly Devendra Fadnavis said, “Why Indira Gandhi used to come to Mumbai? Did Congress use underworld support and funding to win elections? Did Congress use muscle power in elections? If underworld played a key role in deciding the police commissioner of Mumbai and power centre at Mantralaya, does not it mean the ‘criminalisation of politics began during the Indira rule?”
Asking why Congress leaders like Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra were silent, Fadnavis asked the party to clarify if it also shielded the underworld dons who attacked Mumbai.