Mumbai: The BJP, the Shiv Sena and the MNS on Friday took on comedian-actor Kapil Sharma who complained to Prime Minister Narendra Modi that he was asked to pay a bribe by a municipal officer.
“I am paying Rs 15 crore income tax from last five years and still I have to pay Rs 5 lakh bribe to BMC office (every year) for making my office. Is this your ‘Achhe Din’?” Sharma tweeted to Modi.
Stung by the 35-year-old popular comedian’s allegation, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis immediately called for “strictest action” and asked him to provide all information regarding the bribery allegation.
“We will not spare the culprits,” Fadnavis said.
But within hours, accusing fingers were pointed at Kapil. And by late evening, he had virtually retracted his morning allegations with a tweet: “I just voiced my concern on the corruption I faced with certain individuals. It is no blame on any political party be in BJP, MNS or Shiv Sena.”
The Shiv Sena and the Bharatiya Janata Party control the BrihanMumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC).
BMC’s Chief of Vigilance Department Manohar Pawar said it had taken a serious view of the allegation and told Kapil to lodge a formal complaint and identify the officer who allegedly demanded bribe for speeding up the work on his under-construction office.
Later, the BMC revealed it had slapped a notice on July 16 this year, accusing Kapil of usurping 16 feet of government land by indulging in an illegal construction of his office in Andheri West.
Some of his neighbours and local activists also joined the chorus alleging that the comedian used his star status to bulldoze opponents and indulging in questionable activities.
Kapil came out with a fresh allegation that local Shiv Sena and MNS activists also demanded money from him and that he had earlier complained to the civic body but no action was taken.
Though Shiv Sena youth leader Aaditya Thackeray earlier lauded Kapil, hours later the party alleged that an “outsider” was trying to defame the BMC, India’s biggest and richest municipal body.
Maharashtra Navnirman Sena’s (MNS) Chitrapat Sena President Amey Khopkar dared Kapil to prove his allegation or they would bar him from conducting his shootings in the city.
Khopkar charged that a studio set used by the comedian for shooting his shows was illegal. Kapil must apologize or face the music, he warned.
Obviously eyeing dividends from the upcoming civic election in February 2017, Mumbai Congress President Sanjay Nirupam and NCP city President Sachin Ahir lauded Kapil for his boldness in raising the issue.
While BJP MP Kirit Somaiya said he was pained to hear the comedian’s experience, party MLA Ram Kadam chided Kapil for taking to social media instead of complaining when the incident happened.
Perhaps taken aback by the rebounding effect of his allegations, Kapil thanked Fadnavis for his intervention and sought a meeting to discuss the issue with him.
Lionised on the social media till afternoon, the actor was later trolled and jeered. Some demanded his arrest.
BJP MP Manoj Tiwari demanded an apology from Kapil to Modi.
Congress spokesman Randeep S. Surjewala had a sarcastic tweet: “Everyone believed Modiji will deposit Rs 15 lakh in every account. Instead, it seems they will recover Rs 5 lakh from us.”