Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut on Thursday withdrew his controversial comments wherein, he claimed that former prime minister Indira Gandhi met gangster Karim Lala in Mumbai.
If someone feels my statement hurt Indira Gandhis image, or someones feelings, I take it back, Mr. Raut said.
In the past, I have taken her (Gandhis) side and argued with people who tried to malign her image. In such cases, some Congress leaders had remained silent, the Rajya Sabha member said. During an interview to the Lokmat media group at its award function in Pune, Mr. Raut claimed, When (underworld don) Haji Mastan came to Mantralaya, the entire secretariat would come down to see him. Indira Gandhi used to meet Karim Lala in Pydhonie (in south Mumbai).
Congress leaders Milind Deora and Sanjay Nirupam on Thursday morning asked Mr. Raut to withdraw his ill-informed remarks.
However, before taking back his comments, Mr. Raut said that his words were twisted by those unaware of Mumbais history as he meant that Ms. Gandhi met Karim Lala in his capacity as representative of the Pathan community.
Karim Lala was one of the three top underworld dons of Mumbai for over two decades, from the sixties to early eighties and the other two being Mastan Mirza alias Haji Mastan and Varadarajan Mudaliar.
Kareem Lala was leader of Pathan community and he led an organisation called Pakhtun-e-Hind. It was in this capacity of the leader of Pathan community that he met several top leaders including Indira Gandhi. However, those who do not (know) the history of Mumbai, are twisting my statement, Mr. Raut said in a tweet.
I have never shied away from praising Indira Gandhi as an iron lady who took decisions with iron fist. Surprisingly those who do not (know) history of Indiraji are shouting on top of the voice, he said in another tweet.
Latching onto the controversy, former Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis sought an explanation from the Congress leadership over Mr. Rauts comments and wondered whether the Congress was funded by Mumbais underworld.
The BJP leader also questioned if it was the beginning of criminalisation of politics in the state, and if the Congress supported those who attacked Mumbai.
Was the Congress in need of muscle power to win elections in those days?" he asked.