Deshmukh visit to Taj with Ram Gopal Varma sparks anger
Maharashtra CM Vilasrao Deshmukh visited the battered Taj hotel in Mumbai with his actor-son Riteish and filmmaker Ram Gopal Varma, triggering angry reactions from Mumbaikers, report Ketaki Ghoge and Urvi Mahajani. SpecialUpdated: Dec 01, 2008, 02:30 IST
Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh walked into the ravaged Taj hotel on Saturday for a tour with two unusual visitors — his actor son Ritiesh and Bollywood director Ram Gopal Varma.
Deshmukh and his cabinet colleagues are facing widespread public outrage after the sweeping terrorist attacks that killed at least 183 people.
Mumbai’s chief secretary Johny Joseph and Police Commissioner Hasan Gafoor accompanied the politician and the Bollywood duo.
“This is really not the time for VIP tours in the hotel. It’s plain insensitive on part of the chief minister,” said Akshay Wadke, 28, who participated in a candle vigil by thousands of people at Mumbai's Marine Drive on Sunday.
While Ritiesh has mostly worked in comic roles, Varma has made several thrillers on real-life themes and once considered a terrorism film on the 1999 hijacking of an Indian Airlines jetliner.
Deshmukh told reporters that Varma’s presence was just a “coincidence” and asked people to ignore the issue.
The visit came a day after Deputy Chief Minister R.R Patil was quoted as saying of the terrorist strikes: “Small things do happen in big cities. They wanted to kill 5,000 people, we have minimised the damage.”
Patil said in his defence said that he was quoted “completely out of context”.
The Taj hotel was freed after a 59-hour battle that cost at least 22 lives, and has been off limits for everyone since. The security of the Taj is being handled by the Mumbai Police and the Rapid Action Force.