Under fire for “brokering” a deal between the producers of Ae Dil Hai Mushkil and MNS, Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis has said he opposed the Rs 5-crore contribution offered by the film-makers to the army welfare fund.
The CM, however, defended his intervention, saying governments even talked to the separatists and Left ultras for the sake of peace even as two union ministers criticised Raj Thackeray-led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena for forcing the producers to make the contribution as “penance” for casting Pakistani actors.
The army, defence minister Manohar Parrikar said on Tuesday, accepted only voluntary donations for the welfare of battle casualties. “The concept is of voluntary donation and not catching someone’s neck. We don’t appreciate it,” Parrikar told reporters in New Delhi.
The MNS’ demand was wrong and the government had nothing to do with it, information and broadcasting minister M Venkaiah Naidu said.
“That was a wrong proposal. We don’t agree with their (MNS) proposal. The Maharashtra chief minister has also clarified he was not a part of the proposal made by some other party,” Naidu said in the Capital.
Hindustan Times reported on Sunday the army would not accept forced donations and was not comfortable being dragged into the politics surrounding the film. Karan Johar’s film faced protests for casting a Pakistani actor, with MNS threatening to block the release scheduled for October 28. But Fadnavis stepped in and at a meeting between the Film Producers’ Guild, the movie producers and Thackeray resolved the crisis.
“Thackeray had put three demands, of which there were no objections to the other two. When the issue of Rs5 crore came up, I intervened and made it clear to the Film Producers’ Guild that they need not agree to it... However, it was producers’ decision to accept it,” Fadnavis said Monday evening.
The opposition says in brokering the deal, the chief minister had abandoned his primary responsibility of maintaining law and order.
“When the MNS objected to the word Bombay in Wake Up Sid, Johar went to meet Raj Thackeray at his residence and settled the issue by agreeing to carry a disclaimer before the film. This time also the issue has been settled by surrendering, but it was in the presence of the CM,” said Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant.
(With agency inputs)