(Eds: with additional quotes) Mumbai, Jan 16 (PTI) Terming as 'wrong' Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut's comment about Indira Gandhi meeting gangster Karim Lala, Maharashtra Congress chief Balasaheb Thorat on Thursday said the party will not tolerate such remarks, and conveyed their disappointment to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray.
Senior Congress leader and former Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan went a step further as he cryptically said that his party is 'ready to pay whatever price required', but will not tolerate comments against the late prime minister.
During an interview to the Lokmat media group at its award function in Pune on Wednesday, Raut had claimed that Indira Gandhi used to meet Karim Lala in Pydhonie (in south Mumbai).
However, Raut withdrew his comment on Thursday saying, 'If someone feels my statement hurt Indira Gandhi's image, or someone's feelings, I take it back.' Talking to reporters here, Thorat, who is the Maharashtra Revenue Minister, cautioned all leaders, including Raut, against making remarks criticising great leaders.
'It indeed was a wrong statement and we will not tolerate such a statement. Nobody should make such a statement,' he said.
'Raut should also not make such a statement which criticises great men. We are disappointed with the statement.
We have spoken to the chief minister on the issue,' Thorat added.
In a series of tweets, Thorat credited Indira Gandhi for breaking the back of underworld and tightening the noose around gangsters like Karim Lala, Haji Mastan, Yusuf Patel and others.
Latching onto Raut's claim, BJP leader and former Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis wondered whether the Congress was 'funded by Mumbai's underworld'.
Hitting back at Fadnavis, Thorat said Maharashtra has seen pictures of Fadnavis meeting a notorious goon at 'Varsha' (CM's official bungalow in Mumbai) when the latter was the chief minister.
'Fadnavis who protected a goon like Munna Yadav by appointing him on corporation should not talk about criminalisation in politics,' Thorat said in a tweet.
'Leader of the Opposition Devendra Fadnavis also should give up his habit of making a mountain of a mole. He should not try to insult Bharatratna late Indiraji Gandhi to make up for loss of face the BJP suffered for insulting Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj,' he said.
The BJP came under attack from the Shiv Sena, NCP and Congress in Maharashtra over a book comparing Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Shivaji Maharaj. The book is written by BJP leader Jay Bhagwan Goyal.
Chavan said, 'We are ready to pay whatever price required. But we will not tolerate any comment against her.' He also urged the ruling Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi (MVA) constituents to desist from making any 'wrong statements' about great leaders.
Earlier in the day, former Mumbai Congress chiefs Milind Deora and Sanjay Nirupam asked Raut to withdraw his 'ill-informed' remarks.
Former Union minister Deora said politicians should refrain from 'distorting' legacies of prime ministers who are no more.
Nirupam said Raut will 'repent' if he continues a 'false campaign' against Gandhi. PTI ENM GK NP NP