In a sharp retort, Congress leaders Sanjay Nirupam and Milind Deora on Thursday asked Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut to withdraw his "ill-informed" statement that former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi met underworld don Karim Lala.
Describing Gandhi as a "true patriot", Deora, the former Mumbai Congress chief, said she never compromised on India's national security.
He also said politicians should refrain from "distorting" legacies of prime ministers who are no longer alive.
"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," he said in a tweet.
Indira ji was a true patriot who never compromised on India’s national security.
Political leaders must show restraint before distorting the legacies of deceased Prime Ministers
— Milind Deora मिलिंद देवरा (@milinddeora) January 16, 2020
In a veiled attack on Raut, Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam cautioned him from continuing "false campaign" against Gandhi or he would have to repent.
Noting that the Shiv Sena MP often shared "poetry of others", Nirupam said it would be better if Raut focuses on entertaining Maharashtra with such poetic stuff.
"It will be better if Shiv Sena's Mr Shayar (poet) focuses on entertaining Maharashtra by sharing light-hearted poetry of others. He will have to repent if he carries out false campaign against former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi ji. He should withdraw the statement he gave about Indiraji yesterday," Nirupam tweeted in Hindi.
बेहतर होगा कि शिवसेना के मि.शायर दूसरों की हल्की-फुल्की शायरी सुनाकर महाराष्ट्र का मनोरंजन करते रहें।
पूर्व प्रधानमंत्री इंदिरा गांधी जी के खिलाफ दुष्प्रचार करेंगे तो उन्हें पछताना पड़ेगा।
कल उन्होंने इदिराजी के बारे में जो बयान दिया है वो वापस ले लें।
— Sanjay Nirupam (@sanjaynirupam) January 16, 2020
As the brouhaha grew, Raut on Thursday sought to clarify his remarks, saying he had always stood up for Indira Gandhi when she was attacked by people.
"The respect that I have always shown towards Indira Gandhi, Pandit Nehru, Rajiv Gandhi and the Gandhi family, despite being in Opposition, nobody has done it. Whenever people have targeted Indira Gandhi, I have stood up for her.”
He added, "Many political people used to come to meet Karim Lala; times were different back then. He was a leader of the Pathan community, he had come from Afghanistan. So, people used to meet him over the problems faced by the Pathan community."
The Congress leader's remark comes after Raut on Wednesday claimed that the former prime minister used to go and meet yesteryear don Karim Lala, who operated in smuggling, narcotics, gambling, forced property evictions, and extortion rackets in Mumbai for over two decades.
"There was a time when Dawood Ibrahim, Chhota Shakeel, Sharad Shetty used to decide who would be Police Commissioner of Mumbai and who would sit in the 'Mantralaya'. Indira Gandhi used to go and meet Karim Lala. We have seen that underworld, now it's just 'chillar'," Raut had said.
During an interview to the Lokmat media group at its award function in Pune, 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)."
Karim Lala was one of the three top underworld dons of Mumbai for over two decades, from the sixties to the early eighties, the other two being Mastan Mirza alias Haji Mastan and Varadarajan Mudaliar.
The Shiv Sena leader also claimed that he has photographed the fugitive don Dawood Ibrahim and has even threatened him.
"I have conducted a photo session of Dawood Ibrahim and others. There are a few people in the country who have seen and talked to Dawood Ibrahim. I have seen him, talked to him several times and even threatened him but that was a different time," Raut had said.
With inputs from agencies
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Updated Date: Jan 16, 2020 14:19:55 IST