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Kalanis of Ulhasnagar — The wrong message for Modi’s Clean Politics claim

During 2014, addressing a rally at Hardoi while taking a line different from his development-oriented speeches, Narendra Modi said that he would flush out all the MPs with criminal antecedents from the Parliament and in the process, he won’t even spare those from either BJP or the NDA. Those days, his attack was on Congress and the NCP candidates. Modiji used to call NCP a “National Corrupt Party”. Later on, for his party’s survival, the tainted Ministers with money and muscle power were not only given place in BJP but they were rewarded with prominent portfolios in the state politics.

BJP Corporator Pancham Kalani became the youngest Mayor of Ulhasnagar with the support of her husband Omie Kalani, who runs his own party called Team Omi Kalani (TOK). The 29-year-old Pancham is the third member of the powerful Pappu Kalani family to occupy the post. In the past, Pappu, who is Pancham’s father-in-law, and Jyoti, Pancham’s mother-in-law, has held the post.

Pancham’s husband, Omie, played a key role in getting her elected unopposed. During the 2014 elections, Congress and NCP shrunk in the state, those days many NCP leaders chose to switch their loyalties to BJP, but the old Kalanis remained in NCP while Omie Kalani formed his own party but stood with BJP and in return, BJP gave membership to his wife.

Modi might claim anything but no wonder that it has evidently been a case of the pot calling the kettle black as Congress, NCP, and BJP parties have fielded candidates with criminal records. Modi earlier said that he would form the panel to shortlist the MPs with criminal records on the basis of affidavits they have submitted before the Election Commission. After checking the genuineness of the cases, the government will knock the doors of the Supreme Court and urge the court to proceed with cases against these MPs following which they would be put behind the bars. He boasted that he has decided to cleanse the politics of the country after May 16, 2014. Modi said that the democracy of the country would not progress if the politics of the country were not made crime-free. Taking a dig at the opposition, Modi said that those who have been indulging in the politics of crime, will not be able to cleanse the system.

A dreaded criminal and NCP leader Pappu Kalani were in jail for his criminal activities, his wife had many cases, his son Omie Kalani’s nomination was cancelled by the Election Commission because Omie has three sons and one from his first wife. Candidates with more than two kids are not allowed to contest. The Commission rejected Omie’s reply saying that his first child was from his former wife. Omie’s second wife Pancham Kalani, a first-time contestant, got a green signal from the Election Commission because she had two children.

Omie Kalani is the son of the former MLA and gangster Pappu Kalani, arrived at an election rally brandishing a sword, evoking memories of his father, who is a gangster-turned-politician from Ulhasnagar who was booked under TADA charges in early 1990 and is currently on bail. Pappu Kalani had 34 criminal cases against him and also had links with the underworld don Dawood Ibrahim in the past. Omie Kalani seems to be following his father’s footsteps. Kalani had recently declared that his candidates, under the banner of Team Omie Kalani, would alone hold 30 seats. While his mother Jyoti is a sitting MLA on NCP’s ticket from Ulhasnagar, there was talk that Kalani was going to enter in an alliance with the BJP.

BJP Minister of State Ravindra Chavan confirmed that Team Omie Kalani would be supported by BJP.

Pappu Kalani’s formal name is Suresh Budharmal Kalani and Pappu may be a nickname, though he prefers it as a part of the formal name, writing Suresh (Pappu) Budharmal Kalani in his election papers. He is currently on bail in 19 cases including eight of murder and was most recently elected as the MLA for Ulhasnagar from the Republican Party of India (Athavale) in the Maharashtra state assembly elections, 2004. Pappu Kalani served a life sentence on December 3, 2013, in a 23-year-old murder case of Ghanashyam Bhatija. Ghanashyam Bhatija was murdered on February 27, 1990, near the Pinto Resorts in Ulhasnagar of Thane district. His brother Inder Bhatija, who had seen the murder, was also shot dead on April 27, 1999, despite having police protection. Born into a wealthy family, Pappu Kalani’s uncle Dunichand Kalani was the president of the local unit of Indian National Congress. The family ran a liquor business and owned a number of distilleries and hotels. In the 1970s, Ulhasnagar was a booming lawless town settled by entrepreneurial refugees who had emigrated from Sindh, Pakistan, after the Partition of India in 1947. Sharp business practices combined with illegal construction and unauthorised industrial units made for an atmosphere where “protection” emerged as a profitable business. A number of gangs were soon working under the patronage of political parties. Pappu Kalani’s uncle Keemat Kalani, also affiliated with the Congress party, ran the gang headed by Chiman Tejwani while the opposing parties, under politician Gop Behrani, employed the gang of Govind Vachani and Gopal Rajwani. It is reported that both gangs were connected to the Dawood Ibrahim gang. Use was also made of the media and hush money was regularly paid to journalists.

In 1983, Gopal Rajwani was for a while aligned with Pappu Kalani and they executed the brutal knife murder of the Editor A V Narayan of Blitz magazine. Rajwani was arrested for this, but he was eventually acquitted due to the lack of witnesses and shoddy prosecution. Nothing came out of this dastardly murder, however, as the Indian press never stood up against this criminal. In 1986, Pappu Kalani was elected the president of the Ulhasnagar Municipal Council (UMC), and the same year, he was chosen by the Indian National Congress party as its candidate for the state legislature from Ulhasnagar, and easily won the seat. Meanwhile, Gopal Rajwani and Pappu had fallen out over the division of extortion money. In April 1985, Rajwani was arrested in an extortion case, apparently at Kalani’s bidding. As Rajwani was being escorted to the police station in a rickshaw, Kalani arranged for his men to attack him with bombs and guns. Rajwani survived the attack and eventually relocated to Dubai, with the help of Haji Mastan, a notorious smuggler and senior don of that time. In April 1989, Pappu’s uncle Dudhichand Kalani was murdered, allegedly by the Govind Vachani/Gopal Rajwani gang, at the instance of Gop Behrani. This led to reprisal killings – as many as 22 murders in five months. It was during this period that Pappu Kalani emerged as the leader of his own organised crime gang. And now his next generation is carrying the legacy, which is happily supporting BJP — some being part of the party and some being independent.

(Any suggestions, comments or dispute with regards to this article send us on [email protected])

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Dr Vaidehi Taman
Dr Vaidehi an Accredited Journalist from Maharashtra is bestowed with Honourary Doctorate in Journalism, Investigative Journalist, Editor, Ethical Hacker, Philanthropist, and Author. She is Editor-in-Chief of Newsmakers Broadcasting and Communications Pvt. Ltd. for 11 years, which features an English daily tabloid – Afternoon Voice, a Marathi web portal – Mumbai Manoos, monthly magazines like Hackers5, Beyond The News (international) and Maritime Bridges. She is also an EC Council Certified Ethical Hacker, Certified Security Analyst and is also a Licensed Penetration Tester which caters to her freelance jobs.

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