Even though Sanjay Raut, leader of western Maharashtra’s ruling Shiv Sena has already withdrawn his explosive statement against Indira Gandhi, celebrated as the first woman prime minister of India, it has triggered a row between politicians and political parties.
Raut claimed that Gandhi had links with India’s most wanted criminals like Karim Lala, Dawood Ibrahim and others.
Raut, a journalist by profession, was speaking at an award function in western Pune when he made the controversial statement.
"There was a time when don Dawood Ibrahim, Chhota Shakeel, Sharad Shetty used to decide who would be Police Commissioner of Mumbai and who would sit in the 'Mantralaya' (ministry). Indira Gandhi used to go and meet Karim Lala. We've seen that underworld, now it's just chillar," Raut said on Wednesday.
The national opposition Indian National Congress leader Milind Deora condemned Raut’s claims and asked him to withdraw his “ill-informed” statement. Deora also said politicians must show restraint before distorting the legacies of late prime ministers.
Indira ji was a true patriot who never compromised on India’s national security.— Milind Deora मिलिंद देवरा (@milinddeora) January 16, 2020
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
Ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator Ram Kadam also lashed at Raut and wanted a case to be registered against him and said he should be arrested.
BJP leader Ram Kadam on Sanjay Raut's reported comment, 'Udayanraje Bhosale must prove that he is a descendant of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj': He must take back his statement. We demand that a case must be registered against him and he must be arrested. pic.twitter.com/eEXzNEDZig— ANI (@ANI) January 16, 2020
However, Former Chief of Maharashtra state Devendra Fadnavis said that Congress is answerable to the allegations and it must clarify. He also questioned why Congress needed muscle power during those days and were the elections funded by such criminals.
Devendra Fadnavis, BJP: Senior leaders of Congress must answer the people, association with criminals because of whom attacks have happened in Mumbai, I think there is nothing more defaming than this, Congress must clarify. https://t.co/4X45RmimEj pic.twitter.com/WbSSb9KURN— ANI (@ANI) January 16, 2020
As the statement led to a huge uproar, Raut came out with a clarification that Karim Lala was a leader of the Pathan community, originally from Afghanistan and it was quite natural for political leaders to meet him.
“The respect that I have always shown towards Indira Gandhi, Pandit Nehru (Jawaharlal 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,” ANI quoted Raut as saying in clarification.
The controversy has led to hashtag #RautExposedIndiraGandhi with netizens divided over the expose. Several supported Raut’s claim and hailed him for making the revelation while others denied believing the allegations.
Indira Gandhi, a central figure of the Indian National Congress, was shot dead by her security guards on 31 October at her official residence in New Delhi. Her first term as Prime Minister was from 1966 to 1977 and then from 1980 to 1984 until she was assassinated.