‘Why the fuss?’ asks Deshmukh after taking RGV to Taj hotel


Mumbai : Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh Monday defended his decision to visit the battered Taj hotel here with his actor son Riteish Deshmukh and Bollywood filmmaker Ram Gopal Varma, saying it was “no big deal”.

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“It was decided on the spur of the moment. It wasn’t pre-planned. Taj security chief Kapadiya called and asked me to visit the hotel. The two (Riteish and Varma) were around so I took them along. What’s the big deal? Why the fuss?” Deshmukh asked mediapersons at a press conference here.

The Taj Mahal Palace and Tower hotel, set up in 1905, was seized by terrorists Wednesday night along with a Jewish centre and the Oberoi Trident hotel. The gunmen killed people and then took hostages until commandos neutralised them Saturday.

Deshmukh visited the Taj hotel Sunday along with Riteish and Varma. From there, the chief minister went to the Oberoi.

Mumbaikars expressed anger that the chief minister chose to go to the scene of the terror carnage with a filmmaker, adding to the burden of an already stretched out security force.

“Did he take Ram Gopal Varma so that he (Varma) could make a realistic film one day?” asked Narendra Shinde, an employee of a multinational company.

“This is insensitive (on the part of the chief minister),” said Aruna Anand, a social activist. “Politicians have to exhibit a sense of sensitivity when common people are suffering.”

Shiv Sena MP Bharat Kumar Raut said Deshmukh was trying to promote his son and “bring him in front of the camera”.

“If they wanted to go to the Taj, they could have gone separately to express solidarity. However, if a film star goes there, it is a practical difficulty for security personnel. There was no necessity to go there. He could have sat at home and expressed solidarity.”

Ashok Pandit, also a filmmaker, called it a “security lapse”.

“Even if Riteish is the son of the chief minister and Ram Gopal Varma is a filmmaker of repute, it is a serious security lapse… The chief minister should resign.”

Varma defended himself Sunday, saying: “I have no intention of making a film ever on this issue. My visit was not to make a film on it.”