Mumbai: Amid the controversy over Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut's claim that late prime minister Indira Gandhi met gangster Karim Lala here, former Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis wondered whether the Congress was "funded by Mumbai's underworld".
Fadnavis also questioned if (at that time) it was the beginning of "criminalisation of politics" in the state, and if the Congress "supported" those who attacked Mumbai.
The BJP leader sought an explanation from the Congress leadership over Raut's comments and asked why the party was silent on such "allegations" against their former leader.
"Sanjay Raut has made a 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.
Was the Congress in need of "muscle power" to win elections in those days? he further asked.
Fadnavis quoted 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)."
These questions should be answered by (Congress president) Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi, he said.
"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 the Congress not coming out with an explanation?" the leader of opposition in state Assembly sought to know.
During an interview to the Lokmat media group at its award function in Pune on Wednesday, Raut said, "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)." The 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, the other two being Mastan Mirza alias Haji Mastan and Varadarajan Mudaliar.