A private video allegedly showing senior BJP leader Kirit Somaiya in a compromising position has gone viral, causing a furore in India’s political circles.
Somaiya, according to a report published by the Free Press Journal, has cited political conspiracy and an attempt by individuals, whom he had taken head-on, to tarnish his image. “I am innocent,” he told the media. “I have challenged influential individuals, and now they seek retribution through deplorable methods.”
The report added that he has written to Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who holds the responsibility of the home ministry, urging a thorough investigation. Somaiya said that the political motivation behind such a video could be gauged by the way it was released on the inaugural day of the assembly session.
The Indian Express published his tweet that says, “A video clip of me was shown on a news channel. Claimed that I have harassed many women & many such video clips available & complaints received against Me. I have never abused any woman. Request @Dev_Fadnavis to investigate such allegations and verify the authenticity of Videos.”
Born into a middle-class Gujarati family in Mumbai, Somaiya ran a CA firm — he is a Charted Accountant — before starting his political career. During his college days, too, he was a fervent worker in the BJP youth wing. Growing in stature, he found a place in the state assembly from the Mulund constituency and was president of BJP’s Mumbai unit.
According to the Free Press Journal, Marathi news channel Lokshahi claims to have the video footage, although it has blurred the explicit content and protected the identity of the woman involved.
The media house said Kamlesh Sutar, Editor of Lokshahi, didn’t want to invade anyone’s privacy but sought clarification from Somaiya regarding the video’s authenticity.
FPJ further reported that Sutar revealed that many of such clips, involving Somaiya, have come to their attention. The channel, agreeing that airing of such clips may be viewed as a breach of privacy, said that given Somaiya’s political position, the video content necessitated an explanation.
CP leader of Sharad Pawar faction, Vidya Chavan, was quoted as saying that Somaiya did not have any right to malign others when his own actions are questionable. “I personally felt disappointed by the video footage involving Kirit Somaiya. His aggressive behaviour and offensive gestures are concerning. As a prominent figure known for exposing corruption, if such misconduct is true, I believe appropriate action should be taken,” Chavan was quoted as saying.
Rupali Thombre-Patil, leader of Ajit Pawar NCP faction, called for an investigation into the authenticity of the video. “The emergence of such a video in this manner is highly serious and regrettable. Kirit Somaiya is a well-known personality who has exposed numerous instances of corruption. If videos of this nature do exist, it is imperative to initiate proper legal proceedings,” she said. As highlighted by The Indian Express, Somaiya has a reputation for following up on complaints against leaders of opposition parties. He often announces actions against them on social media platforms.
Somaiya has had a fiery stint as a politician, taking on Shiv Sena in the 2017 Mumbai civic polls. According to a report by the Hindustan Times, he also flayed the then Shiv Sena chief Uddhav Thackeray, using strong words like ‘mafia of Bandra’.
The HT reported: “Somaiya found the mettle to go after Thackeray as well as Sena leaders such as Sanjay Raut, Anil Parab, Milind Narvekar, Yashwant Jadhav and Pratap Sarnaik. He gathered information on various transactions with the help of friendly central agencies and levelled allegations of corruption, misappropriation or benami transactions. Most of these cases are under probe.”
Further, it reads: “Somaiya levelled allegations of financial irregularities by Raut in Patra Chawl case, a firm formed by his daughters, and a contract of Covid-19 facility given to one of the ‘close aides’ of the Sena leader. This led to a bitter fight between Raut and Somaiya after the former hit back with allegations of siphoning Rs57 crore crowd funded in 2013-14 to preserve India’s first aircraft carrier INS Vikrant following its decommissioning. Raut also alleged that Somaiya and his son had links with Rakesh Wadhwan, an accused in the PMC Bank scam. However, Raut or his party have not been able to provide proof to substantiate their claims.”
But Somaiya, as the report states, has cynics within his party — they point to cases he abandons mid-way.