While Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut has retracted his statement on former PM Indira Gandhi, Shiv Sena sources on Thursday, have claimed that Raut's comment was on purpose as his brother Sunil Raut had not been given a cabinet berth. The party sources have also expressed concerns at Sanjay Raut's repeated statements as it might affect the Maha Vikas Aghadi alliance. Sources further stated that Raut must apologize if needed and if demanded by Congress to keep the alliance intact.
Facing severe backlash from several top Congress leaders like Sanjay Nirupam, Milind Deora and Abhishek Singhvi over his controversial remark, Raut retracted his statement. He had alleged that former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had met with underwood don Karim Lala. Sources have stated that NCP Supremo Sharad Pawar had called Raut regarding his remarks.
He said, "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".
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. While BJP has backed Raut's remarks, the Congress has denied any such meeting between the former PM and Lala.
"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)".
On December 30, Sanjay Raut who is a close friend of the Thackeray family and is Sena's official spokesperson missed witnessing Yuva Sena chief Aaditya Thackeray who was sworn-in as a Cabinet Minister. His brother- Sunil Raut stated that other Shiv Sena leaders including Pratap Sarnaik are upset with the party, thus skipped the oath-taking ceremony. Sanjay Raut had dismissed reports of any rift with the Thackeray family.