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‘Did underworld fund Congress? Did Congress support Mumbai bombers?’ Devendra Fadnavis seeks explanation from Congress over Sanjay Raut’s remarks

During an interview with the Lokmat media group at its award function in Pune, Sanjay Raut claimed that former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi used to visit Mumbai to meet Karim Lala.

Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut yesterday stirred up a hornet’s nest by divulging that “Indira Gandhi used to meet gangster Karim Lala in Pydhonie (in south Mumbai).”

Today, amidst the controversy over his remark, former Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis queried why Congress party bigwigs like Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra are silent over the allegations meted out at Congress stalwart Indira Gandhi by a member of their alliance partner Shiv Sena, with whom they have come together to constitute the government in Maharashtra. He sought an explanation from the grand old party over Raut’s comment.

He wondered whether the Congress was “funded by Mumbai’s underworld” and whether these funds were utilised to win elections during those days.

“Sanjay Raut has made major expos about late PM Indira Gandhi. Why was she visiting Mumbai and whether the Congress was funded by the underworld of Mumbai? Was it the beginning of criminalisation of politics?” he queried.

Quoting Raut as saying that underworld dons Chhota Shakeel and Dawood Ibrahim used to “decide who would be the commissioner of police, as well as postings in ‘Mantralaya’ (state secretariat),” he asks whether Congress needed “muscle power” to win elections in those days?

Fadnavis asked the Congress leadership whether they are in unison with Raut’s claim that during Congress the regime, from 1960 to 1980, the underworld use to decide on who would be Mumbai’s commissioner of police?

“Why are Congress leaders still silent despite such allegations against their supreme leader?” Fadnavis asked. “Did the Congress support those who attacked Mumbai? Why is Congress not coming out with an explanation?” he questioned.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oP0HG6vOoms]

Devendra Fadnavis said that he wondered whether Congress has chosen not to speak on this matter because they do not want to lose the grip on Maharashtra by speaking against a member of its ally Shiv Sena.

Firebrand politician Sanjay Raut, who played a central role in stitching alliance between ideologically disparate parties of Shiv Sena, Congress and NCP in Maharashtra, had made an explosive revelation, on Tuesday, that he had met underworld don, Dawood Ibrahim, many times over.

During an interview with the Lokmat media group at its award function in Pune on Wednesday, Raut also said, “When (underworld don) Haji Mastan came to Mantralaya, the entire secretariat would come down to see him. In fact, he also claimed that former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi used to visit Mumbai to meet Karim Lala.

The motormouth Rajya Sabha member also said that “they (underworld) used to decide who will be Mumbai’s police commissioner and who will sit in Mantralaya”.

Karim Lala was one of the three top underworld dons of Mumbai for over two decades, from the sixties to early eighties. He operated the Pathan gang from the crime-infested Muslim ghettos of South Bombay and were involved in illegal gambling, liquor dens, contract killing, illegal money recovery and other things. He died in Mumbai in 2002 at the age of 90-91.

Later, however, in an attempt to undo the mess and please its alliance partner, Shiv Sena motormouth Sanjay Raut issued a clarification on his comments that former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi used to come to Mumbai to meet underworld don, Karim Lala. He justified such meetings saying that a lot of people used to meet Karim Lala, as he was a world leader of Pathan community. Raut even went on to compare underworld don Karim Lala with Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan.

Notably, while Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan was known as Frontier Gandhi for his non-violent movements and pacifist nature, Karim Lala was notorious for contract killings, forceful property eviction, kidnapping and extortion.

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