Did mafia finance Congress? Fadnavis demands answer

Mumbai: Maharashtra’s Leader of Opposition Devendra Fadnavis demanded to know whether the underworld mafia was financing the Congress and sought a clarification from its leaders like Sonia Gandhi, Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi, here on Thursday.

Referring to Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut’s claim that the late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi used to meet mafia don Karim Lala and others, Fadnavis said in view of these serious revelations, now the Congress must bare its chest on the issue.

In a private TV channel talkshow in Pune late on Wednesday, Raut had claimed that Indira used to come to meet the don (Lala) in Pydhonie, his den in south Mumbai, sparking of a fresh controversy and rocking the two-month old Maha Vikas Aghadi government of Sena-Nationalist Congress Party-Congress in the state.

“There were days when the likes of Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar, Chhota Shakeel, Sharad Shetty decided on who would be the Commissioner of Police of Mumbai or who would sit in Mantralaya When Karim Lala used to come to Mantralaya, the ‘entire’ Mantralaya would come down to meet him’. We have seen that ‘underworld’, now it is just ‘chillar’ (small-change),” Raut said in the talkshow.

A former journalist and crime reporter in Mumbai, Raut added that he had conducted a photo session for Dawood and others, and even chided him once, but that was a different era and now all the (dons) have fled the country.

Fadnavis said in view of Raut’s claims, the Congress must come out with its stance on the issue, how the underworld was influencing the decision-making in the state government.

There were ripples even in the ruling state ally, Congress, with former Mumbai city chiefs taking strong objections to Raut’s utterances.

“Those who indulge in such fake propaganda about former PM Indira Gandhi, will have to repent. He must withdraw his statements immediately,” ex-Mumbai Congress president and former MP Sanjay Nirupam said on Thursday.

“Indiraji was a true patriot who never compromised on India’s national security. I demand that Sanjay Raut withdraw his ill-informed statement. Political leaders must show restraint before distorting the legacies of deceased PMs,” said former city party chief and ex-union minister Milind Deora.

However, there was no reaction to Fadnavis or Raut’s comments from the Congress state or central leaders so far.