The 1975 blockbuster Sholay has spawned hundreds of spoofs and parodies, both political and comical. In the ongoing election season, one such parody has sent the Congress complaining to the Election Commission.
The Congress complaint is the first by a national political party for the alleged violation of the election watchdog’s guidelines on social media.
The Congress has alleged that “Aaj Ki Sholay” parody on YouTube shows the party in a bad light and makes a “derogatory” reference to the party’s vice-president Rahul Gandhi.
The EC regulation issued in October brought social media under the ambit of model code of conduct and at par with other media platforms. It also intended to cover the content uploaded on social media by persons other than candidates and representatives of political parties.
In the movie, Jai, the character played by Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan, seeks heroine’s (Hema Malini’s) hand in marriage for his friend Veeru (Dharmendra) from the prospective bride’s aunt (Leela Mishra).
In the iconic scene, Jay enumerates every bad habit of his friend but in a manner that makes it seem he is extolling his virtues to better his prospects. But he only ends up infuriating the mausi (aunt).
In the parody video, the dubbed dialogue has Jay justifying corruption in the Congress he calls “the old party in the country” and with “hand as its identity”. The mausi, however, is looking for a “clean party”.
VIDEO: A parody of Aaj ki sholay
“Eik baar mili juli sarkar bana li tou niyat saaf ho jaye gi (Once a coalition government is formed, intentions would automatically become clear),” Jai tells the aunt, when she inquires about the manifesto of the party.
Jai goes on to defend corruption in the party by saying, “Kayi bar sansadoon ko khareedna padta hai. Mausi kya karein, kursi cheez hi aasi hain…eik bar mantriyo ko bhrashtachaar ki aadat pad gayi to us mein sarkar ka kya dosh (…many a time, MPs have to be bought. Aunty, you can’t help it, power makes you do such a thing; you can’t blame the government if ministers become habitual of corruption).
And when the aunt asks about the party’s future leader, Jay replies, “As soon as Rahul Baba says ‘yes’, I will inform you.” He then asks the aunt if he can count on her vote.
But the aunt is hardly impressed and blurts out in anger: “I will rather cut my finger than vote for this party. I am a voter, not a fool.”
The complaint filed by Congress’ legal cell in-charge KC Mittal on Thursday says the words used against the party are similar to the remarks made against the party by BJP leaders, especially its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi. Hinting at the saffron party’s hand in the video, the Congress alleged it had originated from Modi’s state of Gujarat.
The first complaint of its type has put the EC in a bind as it does not have the wherewithal to inquire into electoral violations in social media recently brought under the regulation.
The EC was caught off-guard as the complaint came before it could work out a mechanism with the help of the ministry of communication and information technology to regulate the content uploaded by the persons having no direct link with parties in association
The EC says the complaint is being examined and it is considering various options, including asking the government to get the video removed or direct the local police to investigate.