December 1, 2008 12:09:05 am
Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh found himself courting controversy after he visited the two ravaged five-star hotels with actor son Riteish and filmmaker Ram Gopal Verma in tow. Senior Shiv Sena leader and former Lok Sabha speaker Manohar Joshi condemned Deshmukh’s decision to take along Verma and Riteish on his visit to the terror-struck hotels.
After his Sunday’s action earned him flak from the opposition and the media, Deshmukh said he had “not called Verma and his attendance was a mere coincidence”. In a statement, Deshmukh said he was personally on the job to ensure that normalcy was restored in Mumbai and the injured got immediate medical aid and focus on such “unnecessary” issues was “condemnable”.
“These contentions may ensure that there is a possibility that the original issue at hand of countering terrorism unitedly may be sidetracked,” said Deshmukh in the statement released late on Sunday. Deshmukh added that he was accompanied by Chief Secretary Johny Joseph, Mumbai Police Commissioner Hasan Gafoor. The statement made no mention of why the CM’s actor son was with him.
Verma too sought to dismiss the controversy. “I’ve come across some reports that the CM invited me to visit the Taj this morning. Please let me clarify that no such thing happened as I’ve never been even introduced to him. It was just that I happened to be with Riteish at that time. Also, I have no intention of making a film on this issue,” he told The Indian Express.
(With inputs from Harneet Singh)
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