Mumbai: Congress leaders Milind Deora and Sanjay Nirupam on Thursday asked Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut to withdraw his “ill-informed” remarks that former prime minister Indira Gandhi met underworld donKarim Lala.
Deora, who is the former Union minister, described Gandhi as a “true patriot who never compromised on India's national security”.
Raut, whose party is part of the ruling alliance with the Congress and NCP in Maharashtra, on Wednesday claimed that Gandhi met Karim Lala in 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.
Deora said politicians should refrain from “distorting” legacies of prime ministers who are no more.
“Indira ji was a true patriot who never compromised on India’s national security,” he said in a tweet.
“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 further tweeted.
Former Mumbai Congress chief Nirupam said Raut will “repent” if he continues a “false campaign” against Gandhi.
Noting that Raut often shares “poetry of others”, Nirupam said it will be better if the Shiv Sena leader 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 Gandhiji. He should withdraw the statement he gave about Indiraji yesterday,” Nirupam tweeted in Hindi.
During an interview 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).”
Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut on Thursday said that he has always stood up for former prime minister Indira Gandhi whenever people have targeted her.
"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," said Raut.
"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," he added.
His statement came a day after he claimed Indira Gandhi used to go and meet yesteryear don Karim Lala in Mumbai.
Lala operated in smuggling, narcotics, gambling, forced property evictions, and extortion rackets in Mumbai for over two decades. He died in 2002 at the age of 90.
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.