Mumbai North candidate Gopal Shetty and his brush with controversies

Gopal Shetty is a strong candidate under the BJP and Shiv Sena alliance, who had won the 2014 elections against Congress’ Sanjay Nirupam by more than 4 lakh votes. The constituency includes Dahisar, Borivali, Kandivali and Malad West and has close to 18 lakh voters. The constituency is home to plush residential areas such as Thakur Village and Lokhandwala in Kandivali as well as slums like Ganpat Patil Nagar in Dahisar West. His opponent is a film-actor turned politician Urmila Matondkar from the Congress. Gopal Shetty is a three-time corporator and two-time MLA, but there is a lot of times he made headlines. Here’s a look at times when he has been a part of controversies over his remarks.

When he attributed farmer’s suicide to ‘fashion’

In February 2016, Gopal Shetty attributed farmer’s suicides to ‘fashion’ and ‘trends’ to end lives. In an interview to PTI, he was quoted saying, “All suicides do not happen because of unemployment or hunger. A fashion trend is going on these days. If the Maharashtra Government is giving Rs 5 lakh as compensation, the other state gives 7 and the next 8 lakh. There is competition in giving compensation to farmers.” Notably, two days before the incident, the state government had informed the Bombay High Court that 124 farmers have committed suicide in the state within a month. Condemning the comments, Congress said that his remarks were ‘insensitive’ towards farmers. With sharp criticism from the opposition as well people, Shetty later said that he should have been more careful about his comments.

When he addressed Christians as ‘angrez’

In 2018, while addressing a gathering during the Eid-E-Milad at Malad’s Malvani, Shetty had claimed that Indian Christians had no role to play in the freedom movement. A video of his speech went viral. He was quoted saying, “Christians were British, and hence they didn’t participate in the freedom movement.” After Congress criticised his statement and tweeted about it, Mumbai BJP President and MLA from Bandra West went into damage control mode and said that Shetty has been asked to withdraw the statement.

When a complaint was filed for rioting

In 2014, a case was registered against Shetty and 30 others for allegedly threatening a Kandivali-based developer and beating him, his partner, his son, and watchman. A case under sections of rioting, trespassing, and criminal intimidation was filed against Shetty. According to a report in Indian Express, the officers investigating the case said that the private developer had bought a property in Kandivali West from another builder for redevelopment. The property had 27 tenants. The developer then shifted the families to a building and paid a year’s rent in advance. However, this temporary arrangement did not work as the building was listed as dilapidated. The tenants went back to the developer asking the possession of their own flats but he refused. It is when the tenants approached Shetty for help. After learning about the case against Shetty, the tenants approached the police in favour of Shetty and ask them to register a case against the developer for cheating.

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