MUMBAI -- Popular stand-up comedian Kapil Sharma today stoked a controversy by alleging that he had been asked to pay a bribe of ₹5 lakh by an official of the civic body BMC which, in turn, claimed that the actor had carried out "illegal construction" at his office for which a notice had been served on him two months back.
Kapil levelled the allegation in the morning in tweets in which he tagged Prime Minister Narendra Modi, questioning if this was the "achche din" (good days) he had promised.
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis was quick to respond to Sharma's angst and assured him that strict action would be taken against the culprit.
Kapil, while voicing his anger, tweeted: "I am paying 15 cr income tax from last 5 year n still i have to pay 5 lacs bribe to BMC office for making my office @narendramodi (sic)."
In another tweet, he wrote, "Yeh hain aapke achhe din? @narendramodi (are these your good days)," referring to Modi's 2014 poll slogan of "good days are ahead".
Yeh hain aapke achhe din ? @narendramodi
— KAPIL (@KapilSharmaK9) September 9, 2016
The post of Sharma, who has over 6.22 million followers on Twitter, was 'retweeted' and 'liked' by thousands on the social media platform.
Fadnavis, BMC as well as Shiv Sena, which rules the civic body along with BJP, asked Kapil to give details about who demanded the bribe.
Opposition Congress used the issue to target BJP and Shiv Sena over corruption.
As controversy erupted, Sharma again tweeted later in the day, trying to downplay the matter by saying he was not singling out any political party.
"I just voiced my concern on the corruption I faced with certain individuals... It's No blame on any political party be it BJP, MNS or ShivSena," he wrote.
I just voiced my concern on the corruption I faced with certain individuals..Its No blame on any political party be it BJP, MNS or ShivSena
— KAPIL (@KapilSharmaK9) September 9, 2016
Earlier, taking cognisance of the matter, Fadnavis asked Kapil to provide the authorities with necessary information to punish the culprit.
"Kapilbhai pls provide all info. Have directed MC, BMC to take strictest action. We will not spare the culprit," the Chief Minister said in a tweet.
Kapilbhai pls provide all info.
Have directed MC,BMC to take strictest action.
— Devendra Fadnavis (@Dev_Fadnavis) September 9, 2016
In response, Kapil thanked Fadnavis in another tweet saying, "@Dev_Fadnavis thank u so much for ur concern sir.. Would like to come n discuss this matter with u in person .."
However, a senior Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation official claimed that the actor had made some "illegal construction" at his office in Versova area of suburban Mumbai and had been served a notice regarding the same, but he did not pay heed to it.
"Kapil was then sent a notice by BMC on July 16 to stop or remove the construction, but he didn't reply to it," he said.
BMC also asked Kapil to reveal the name of the officer who allegedly demanded the bribe.
Stung by corruption allegations, Shiv Sena, which rules the BMC along with BJP, dared Kapil to name the bribe seeker.
"This is not a comedy show where he can tweet what is going on in his life. He needs to immediately name the person publicly who asked for a bribe or people would watch the whole episode like a comedy drama, laugh over it and forget about it," Sena spokesperson Manisha Kayande said.
"Kapil Sharma is a very famous person and thus the moot question he needs to answer is that why would he give the bribe when somebody asked for it. Giving bribe makes him as much of a culprit as the one who asked for it," Kayande added.
Manohar Pawar, chief engineer of vigilance department in BMC, said, "I have requested Kapil Sharma to reveal the name of the officer who demanded bribe so that we can initiate inquiry and appropriate action against him or her."
"Let me assure you that if you desire to keep any disclosure made by you in this matter confidential, the same shall also be ensured," he said in a statement.
Meanwhile, BJP MLA Ram Kadam filed a complaint with the cyber cell of Mumbai police alleging that Kapil, by keeping mum on the "bribe" demand, did not "discharge his duty as a citizen", and demanded a free and fair inquiry into the entire issue.
Confirming the complaint, Mumbai police spokesperson Ashok Dudhe said, "Yes, we have received an application and since the allegations are related to the anti-corruption department, the application is going to be forwarded to anti-corruption department for further inquiry.
"Giving bribe makes him as much of a culprit as the one who asked for it."
Talking about the issue, Congress chief spokesman Randeep Singh Surjewala termed BMC led by BJP-Shiv Sena as "Bhrastachar Municipal Corporation" and said, "The Acche Din show is houseful!".
"Kapil Sharma is a popular host of a comedy show. The BJP-Shiv Sena show in BMC has been a tragedy," he said in Delhi.
"Everyone believed Modiji will deposit ₹15 lakh in every account. Instead, it seems they will recover ₹5 lakh from us," he said.
Meanwhile, seizing on a reported statement by Sharma to a TV channel, the Raj Thackeray-led MNS threatened the comedian that if he failed to prove involvement of its worker in demanding the bribe within 14 hours, he would not be allowed to shoot in Mumbai.
MNS also said it was ready to take action against its party workers if there is some substance in the allegation.
"The allegation he has made about an MNS worker being involved in demanding a bribe from him, we challenge Kapil Sharma to prove his claims within 14 hours," MNS-affiliate Chitrapat Sena leader Amey Khopkar said.
"If he is proved right, action will be taken against the guilty. If proved wrong, he will not be allowed to shoot further in the city until he apologises to us."
Khopkar also sought to know if the Chief Minister would show the same swiftness in getting demolished the illegal structures, for which Sharma was served a notice, as he did to take cognisance of the comedian's complaint.
"If the CM does not act on the notice about irregularities served to Sharma by the BMC, MNS, through the medium of RTI, will expose how Sharma is being shielded by those in power," he said.
He further claimed that the foreign dancers performing on Kapil's show do not have valid work visas.
"They are working here on a tourist visa which is illegal.
Will the government take cognisance of this illegality as well?" he asked.