New Delhi: Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Raut took a step back on Thursday and said that many people used to come to meet Karim Lala in Mumbai and then withdrew his statement mentioning both ‘many people’ and ‘Indira Gandhi’. On Wednesday, he made a reference to Indira Gandhi coming to South Mumbai to meet the yesteryear don. After receiving flak from the Congress, the Sena leader said it was a different time period. His comment was never meant for disrespecting Congress leaders, or Congress — a partner of Sena in Maharashtra, Raut clarified. Also Read - 'Boycott Chhapaak': Shiv Sena Slams Campaign, 'Reflects Talibani Mindset,' Says Sanjay Raut

  Also Read - Maharashtra Cabinet Expansion: Shiv Sena Leader Sanjay Raut Calls For 'Patience'

“The respect that I have always shown towards Indira Gandhi, Pandit Nehru, Rajiv Gandhi and the Gandhi family, despite being in opposition, nobody has done it. Whenever people have targeted Indira Gandhi, I have stood up for her,” he said.

On Wednesday, Sanjay Raut claimed that former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi used to go and meet Karim Lala in Mumbai.

“There was a time when Dawood Ibrahim, Chhota Shakeel, Sharad Shetty used to decide who would be Police Commissioner of Mumbai and who would sit in the ‘Mantralaya’. Indira Gandhi used to go and meet Karim Lala. We’ve seen that underworld, now it’s just chillar,” Raut said.

Karim Lala operated in smuggling, narcotics, gambling, forced property evictions, and extortion rackets in Mumbai for over two decades. He died in 2002 at the age of 90.

The Shiv Sena leader also claimed that he did a photoshoot of the fugitive don Dawood Ibrahim and has even threatened him. “I have conducted a photo session of Dawood Ibrahim and others. There are a few people in the country who have seen and talked to Dawood Ibrahim. I have seen him, talked to him several times and even threatened him but that was a different time,” he said.

In a tweet, Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam attacked Raut and said, “It would be better if Mr. Poet sticks to entertaining Maharashtra with his light-hearted poetry. If he tries to defame former PM Indira Gandhi he will regret it later. The things he said about Indiraji yesterday must be withdrawn immediately.”