The Shiv Sena attacked the BJP over the Devendra Fadnavis-mediated agreement to release Karan Johar’s film, saying Maharashtra appeared to be shielding Pakistani personalities.
In an editorial in its Saamana publication, the sena said chief minister Fadnavis’s actions clearly showed it was the BJP, and not Congress, protecting Pakistanis.
“It is the BJP government with its 56-inch chest that is siding with Pakistan’s personalities in Maharashtra, not the Congress, as per the chief minister’s actions. Even in the case of Mahmud Kasuri, the state government under the guise of diplomacy literally unrolled a carpet for him, and even now it is standing by the side of Pakistani artists giving flimsy reasons,” the Sena accused.
The Shiv Sena, an ally in the BJP-led Maharashtra government, had earlier protested the book launch of former Pakistan minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri in Mumbai; six sena members even threw blank ink at organisers at the event.
The Sena’s attack follows their earlier charge that the terms which cleared the release of Ae Dil Hain Mushkil amounted to extortion; a share of the movie’s profits are to be donated to the army’s welfare fund, and producers of films employing Pakistanis are expected to donate Rs 5 crore each as “penance”.
While leaders are issuing threats to Pakistan sitting in Delhi, and several in Uttar Pradesh are fishing for votes capitalising on the surgical strikes, not a single one of these “patriots” have strongly said that films with Pakistani actors will not be screened in India, the editorial said.
With Raj Thackeray’s Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) having hijacked the Shiv Sena’s anti-Pakistan agenda through the Bollywood movie, the Shiv Sena used its editorial to reiterate that it has been the only party consistent on its anti-Pakistan stance.
“Mumbai residents heard the language of a threat to burn cinema screens if they show films starring Pakistani actors, but the matchbox is empty. All the matchsticks are in the chief minister’s jacket pocket. In the future, only if he feels an itch will he use the same matchsticks to scratch his ears,” the Shiv Sena said in its editorial, indicating the MNS’ protest was merely a political settlement.
Fadnavis on Saturday mediated talks between Raj Thackeray and director Karan Johar over the smooth release of Ae Dil Hai Mushkil over the Diwali weekend, which the MNS threatened to hamper as the movie starred Pakistani actor Fawad Khan.
Post the meeting, the Producers Guild of India announced they would no longer employ Pakistanis in their movie projects.
There has been a growing rift between the allies, and political experts have questioned if the chief minister’s involvement in the settling the MNS controversy as a political move to prop the fledgling outfit, which is a direct threat to Sena’s votes in Mumbai.
“Only Shiv Sainiks bear the wounds of the enemy, go to prison even during festivals, while others have fun. But whatever may happen, Johar’s ‘dil’ (heart) should be protected. We had expected this to happen. We were keenly watching this, and in the end the masks of several came off after the tea-party at the chief minister’s residence,” the Saamana editorial said.