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Sanjay Raut Says Always Stood Up for Indira Gandhi After His Claim Irks Ally Congress

File photo of Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut. (Image: PTI)

File photo of Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut. (Image: PTI)

Taking exception to the Sanjay Raut's remarks, Congress leader Milind Deora said Indira Gandhi was 'a true patriot who never compromised on India’s national security'.

Mumbai: A day after Sanjay Raut claimed that former prime minister Indira Gandhi would come to Mumbai to meet yesteryear don Karim Lala, causing much embarrassment to his new Maharashtra ally, the Shiv Sena leader seemed to backtrack from his statement.

Recalling days of the underworld in Mumbai, Raut, who was earlier a journalist, on Wednesday said gangsters like Dawood Ibrahim, Chhota Shakeel and Sharad Shetty used to have control over the metropolis and adjoining areas.

They used to decide who will be the police commissioner, who will sit in 'Mantralaya' (secretariat), Raut said in an interview to a media group during its award function here.

"When Haji Mastan used to come to 'Mantralaya', the entire 'Mantralaya' would come down to see him. Indira Gandhi used to come to meet Karim Lala in Pydhonie (in south Mumbai)," claimed Raut, whose party formed a coalition government with the NCP and Congress in Maharashtra last year.

Lala, who operated liquor dens, gambling and extortion rackets in Mumbai from 1960s to 1980s, died in 2002. "Those were the days of the underworld. Later, everybody (dons) fled the country. Now there is nothing like that," the Shiv Sena's Rajya Sabha member said.

The claim, however, irked the Congress, with party leader Milind Deora saying Indira Gandhi was “a true patriot who never compromised on India’s national security”.

He also demanded that Raut withdraw his “ill-informed statement”.

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 & 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 Sena, Congress and NCP alliance is in power in Maharashtra. Critics have raised questions over the longevity of the tie-up, considering the ideological differences of the allies as well as squirmishes over seat sharing and portfolio allocation.


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