Sanjay Raut retracts his 'Indira met don Karim Lala' remark
Sanjay Raut said he was referring to the situation that prevailed 40 years ago, when other leaders, too, met the underworld don
A day after kicking up a storm in the coalition by claiming that late Indira Gandhi frequently met underworld don Karim Lala, Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut on Thursday said he was referring to the situation that prevailed 40 years ago. Retracting his statement, Raut also asked his Congress "friends" to not overreact as he has immense respect for the former prime minister.
The fuming leaders of the Congress vented their discontentment on social media. The party also conveyed to the Sena leadership its displeasure and sought an explanation from Raut, who played a major role in putting the Maha Vikas Aghadi together.
"If someone feels my statement hurt Indiraji's image, or someone's feelings, I take it back," Raut said following severe criticism.
Coming down heavily on Raut, state Congress president and Revenue Minister Balasaheb Thorat said the party would not tolerate anyone who insults party's national leaders. "Raut has retracted the statement and ended the issue, but he must think twice before saying anything of this sort [in the future]," warned Thorat.
However, Raut wondered why his friends in the Congress overacted to his remark. "Whatever I said was in reference to the situation then. My friends in the Congress need not feel hurt, because in the past when Indiraji was insulted they remained quiet while I responded to the detractors and stood by the late Congress leader who enjoyed a great bond with late Balasaheb Thackeray," he said.
BJP widens crack in MVA
Giving further explanation for his remark, Raut said even leaders like freedom fighter Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan used to meet Lala, the leader of Afghani migrants.
"He [Lala] didn't face any criminal charges then,' he added.
The BJP, which now sits in the Opposition in Maharashtra, grabbed the opportunity to slam the Congress, demanding an explanation for the party's alleged links with the underworld. Former chief minister Devendra Fadnavis asked whether the underworld helped the Congress win elections and recommended officers for the city police chief's post. "Soniaji, Rahulji and Priyankaji should tell us what connection does their party have with the people who executed bomb blasts in Mumbai," he said.
Fadnavis said Raut has neither denied nor retracted the statement [made in an interview] that Congress governments were run by the underworld which also appointed a Mumbai police commissioner. "Do you agree with these statements because now you are saying that the issue is over?" he asked Thorat in a tweet.
Responding to Fadnavis, Thorat said one must remember that gangsters Lala and Haji Mastan were put behind bars and Indiarji was at the forefront of the operation to destroy smuggling rackets in Mumbai. He also accused Fadnavis of protecting a criminal like Munna Yadav [from Nagpur] and appointing him as the chief of a state-run corporation. "There are pictures available of criminals meeting Fadnavis at the CM's official residence."
To which, Fadnavis retorted, "Munna Yadav is three-time elected corporator in Nagpur. You can't divert the attention from the fact of the statement made by Sanjay Raut. Congress party owes an answer to its links with Karim Lala".
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