Amid controversy over Sanjay Raut's remarks on Indira Gandhi that she used to meet gangster Karim Lala, Sena leader on Thursday withdrew his controversial comments saying if someone feels his statement hurt Indira Gandhi's image, or someone's feelings, he takes it back. "In the past, I have taken her (Gandhi's) side and argued with people who tried to malign her image. In such cases, some Congress leaders had remained silent," he added.
Raut earlier issued a clarification on his comments saying they were twisted by those unaware of Mumbai's history, as he meant that the former prime minister met gangster Karim Lala in his capacity as representative of the Pathan community.
During an interview to the Lokmat media group at its award function in Pune on Wednesday, Raut claimed that "Indira Gandhi used to meet Karim Lala in Pydhonie (in south Mumbai)."
Sanjay Raut's clarification after Congress objected to his comments
Raut's clarification has come after Congress leaders Milind Deora and Sanjay Nirupam criticised Sena leader asking him to withdraw his "ill-informed" remarks. Raut defended his words, saying he never shied away from praising former prime minister Indira Gandhi.
Asking Raut to withdraw his comments, Deora, who is the former Union minister, described Gandhi as a "true patriot who never compromised on India's national security". Deora said politicians should refrain from "distorting" legacies of prime ministers who are no more. "Indira ji was a true patriot who never compromised on Indias national security," he said in a tweet.
"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," Deora further tweeted.
Former Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam said Raut will "repent" if he continues a "false campaign" against Gandhi. Noting that Raut often shares "poetry of others", Nirupam said it will be better if the Shiv Sena leader focuses on entertaining Maharashtra with such poetic stuff.
"It will be better if Shiv Sena's Mr Shayar (poet) focuses on entertaining Maharashtra by sharing light-hearted poetry of others. He will have to repent if he carries out false campaign against former Prime Minister Indira Gandhiji."
Sanjay Raut's clarification
"Kareem Lala was leader of Pathan community, he led an organisation called 'Pakhtun-e-Hind'. It was in this capacity of the leader of Pathan community that he met several top leaders including Indira Gandhi. However, those who do not (know) the history of Mumbai, are twisting my statement," Raut said in a tweet.
Continuing clarifying on his comments, Sanjay Raut said, "I have never shied away from praising Indira Gandhi as an iron lady who took decisions with iron fist. Surprisingly those who do not (know) history of Indiraji are shouting on top of the voice." Raut said in another tweet while tagging it to Shiv Sena MLA Aaditya Thackeray, and Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Rajeev Satav.
"The respect that I have always shown towards Indira Gandhi, Pandit Nehru, Rajiv Gandhi & the Gandhi family, despite being in opposition, nobody has done it. Whenever people have targeted Indira Gandhi, I have stood up for her," Raut added.
Earlier during the interview to Lokmat media group, Raut further mentioned, "Many political people used to come to meet Karim Lala, times were different back then. He was a leader of the Pathan community, he had come from Afghanistan. So, people used to meet him over the problems faced by the Pathan community."
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.
Meanwhile, former Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has asked senior leaders of Congress to answer the people over association with criminals because of whom attacks have happened in Mumbai. "I think there is nothing more defaming than this, Congress must clarify," he said.