It took the Congress considerable time to resolve the dilemma whether it should take up the Parzania issue or not in Gujarat. But on Tuesday, Arjun Modhwadia, leader of opposition in the state Assembly, shed their hesitation and said that the party would screen the controversial film in different parts of the state to "expose" the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Narendra Modi government.
"We plan to screen Parzania at public places across the state so that people can watch the film without fear," the two leaders said. Modhwadia added that he has sought an appointment with Information and Broadcasting Minister PR Dasmunsi to urge him to ensure the film's release in the state. The Minister, on his part, plans to screen the film for MPs during the Budget session of Parliament that opens on February 23.
"Though there is no official ban on the film in the state but the BJP government has created an atmosphere of fear and backlash, which is forcing theatre owners not to screen the film,'' alleged Modhwadia while talking to newspersons. The Bajrang Dal's reported threat to disrupt the screening had kept it out of cinema halls. Last week, multiplex owners decided not to show the film.
But the state leadership's pro-active stand on the 0Parzania issue came after prodding by the All India Congress Committee a fortnight back.
Afraid of deepening the communal divide in the state where assembly elections are due later this year, the Gujarat Congress was in a quandary whether it should take up the issue of the non-screening of the film that is based on a real life story of a family whose son went missing in the communal riots in 2002 in Gujarat. The campaign was initially handed to the Youth Congress before the pradesh Congress decided to take it up.
Besides its confusion over the Parzania issue, the Congress' Gujarat unit is also in a dilemma on the stand it should take on the Afzal Guru issue, particularly with the BJP putting up posters across the state demanding that he should be hanged for masterminding the terrorist attack on Parliament House. "We do not know how to react to this issue," said a Congress leader, pointing to the risk it runs of alienating either one or the other communities in the heavily polarized state where even the riots have made it unsure of even the support of its traditional tribal voters.
Besides trying to expose the Modi government for pursuing a communal agenda, the state Congress also intends to show as "tall and exaggerated''Modi's claim that the state has progressed economically under his regime. In an indication of the issues his party would focus on during the assembly polls, Modhwadia alleged that the MoUs signed do not often translate into projects. During the 2005 investment summit, of the Rs 1,03,000 crore worth of investments claimed by Modi, only Rs10,000 crore were realized. The debt 0burden has doubled, with Gujarat (Rs 80,000 crore) the fifth highest indebted state after UP (Rs 1,61,358 crore), Maharashtra (Rs. 1,54,556 crore), West Bengal (Rs 6,26,226) and Andhra Pradesh (Rs 91,445 crore).
He also challenged Modi's claims of winning nine awards over his government's performance. "One of the awards claimed is Rajiv Gandhi Foundation Award. If the government is able to show me this award, I will resignation. I have challenged the very existence of these awards in the assembly and dare him to show it to me. My challenge is still there,'' he said.