Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut's retraction of his statement claiming close links between former PM Indira Gandhi and Mumbai underworld dons came after coming under the pressure of ally NCP supremo Sharad Pawar. According to sources speaking to Republic TV, Sharad Pawar called Sanjay Raut from Baramati and asked him to take back his statement on Thursday.
Sources also said that Raut made it clear to Pawar that he won’t apologise for the statement that ally Congress is demanding for. The outspoken Sena leader came under fire from Congress leaders like Sanjay Nirupam, Milind Deora and Abhishek Singhvi over his controversial remark made on Wednesday. The Sena, NCP and Congress have allied as the Maha Vikas Aghadi coalition to govern Maharashtra.
"Our friends in Congress need not be offended by this. I have defended Indira Gandhi many times when she was attacked while Congress kept mute. If someone thinks that my statement would dent the stature of Indira Ji or hurt the sentiment of someone, then I retract my statement," Sanjay Raut told reporters in Mumbai.
Talking about the past influence of the underworld over Mumbai, Sanjay Raut claimed that the underworld decided who will be the city's commissioner and in the state secretariat. Moreover, the Rajya Sabha MP claimed that the entire secretariat would meet don Haji Mastan when he was in town.
"They (underworld) used to decide who will be Mumbai's police commissioner and who will sit in Mantralaya (state secretariat)," Raut said. He added, "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)".
The party's leaders, clearly irked, asked Sanjay Raut to delve into his own party's history before making such claims:
#SanjayRaut linking Indira Gandhi with the underworld with a straight face is deplorable. How does he make such comments without doing saamna with the rich history of his own party?— Abhishek Singhvi (@DrAMSinghvi) January 16, 2020