BJP MP Dr Subramanian Swamy backed Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut over the latter's claim that former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had links with underworld dons of Mumbai. Speaking to Republic TV, Swamy also alleged the ex-PM's link to "notorious" criminals like Galadari brothers. In a massive statement against Maha Vikas Aghadi ally Congress, Raut on Wednesday claimed that Gandhi met with underworld don Karim Lala, in an interview with a local Marathi news agency.
"If she had connections with underworld characters, the facts must come out. Sanjay Raut has shown courage in coming out with, if it's proved to be true, it is a great contribution to fighting corruption," Subramanian Swamy opined.
The Rajya Sabha member also alleged that Indira Gandhi's Congress government withdrew cases against underworld dons to receive "hefty consideration for it". "In 1980, this matter of Indira Gandhi's relationship with the underworld had come up and I had participated in the discussion. It was not on Karim Lala but the Galadari brothers. The previous Janata government had filed many cases against them and Indira Gandhi withdrew it. She got all these criminal cases against these notorious builder-cum-money launderers Galadhari brothers dropped. She supposed to have received hefty consideration for it. There is certainly an indication that Indira Gandhi was not shy of associating with underworld characters."
Subramanian Swamy went on to say that the Shiv Sena went into alliance with Congress and NCP on an agreement on programmes and not "sold their conscience". He said that if Congress can target Veer Savarkar and expect Sena to lump it, then it should also lump on criticism of Indira Gandhi.
When asked if the Maha Vikas Aghadi government will collapse on such tussle, Swamy said he would urge the BJP to support Uddhav government should Congress withdraw support. Admitting that ad-hoc alliance with Ajit Pawar was a misstep, Swamy said, "We also lost the moral advantage by tieing up with Ajit Pawar at 5 am. Now it's not the time for morality but of practicality. If Congress withdraws support, I would urge BJP to support Uddhav government."
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, he 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)".
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. Raut claimed he clicked pictures of many gangsters, including Dawood Ibrahim, adding that he had once even rebuked the gangster. Incidentally, Shiv Sena which was founded in the 1960s, has held power over Mumbai since 1985.