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SRK ‘snub’ fuels protests

He had taken a stand and stood by it. That could have been forgiven. He had spoken up in favour of Pakistanis and ‘outsiders’. Even that could have been forgiven.

mumbai Updated: Feb 11, 2010 00:55 IST
Sayli Udas Mankikar

He had taken a stand and stood by it. That could have been forgiven.

He had spoken up in favour of Pakistanis and ‘outsiders’. Even that could have been forgiven.

Saturday’s edition of Saamna indicated as much, saying it would not oppose the February 12 release of Shah Rukh Khan’s film My Name Is Khan “as it had no interest in being the only party in Mumbai to fight this patriotic battle”.

Two days later, over 1,200 Shiv Sainiks were arrested, many held for ripping up posters and attacking theatres selling advance tickets for Khan’s film.

So what changed?

After all, if Khan had spoken his mind, so had the Sena.

Days after the actor said Pakistani players should have been included in the Indian Premier League teams — and that Mumbai belonged to all Indians and not just the Marathi manoos — the Sena had lashed out, via party mouthpiece Saamna.

Khan should remember that his home is in Mumbai, the editorial threatened. The next day, the party called him a traitor and ordered him to pack his bags and move to Pakistan.

By the time the actor returned on Saturday from his promotional tour in London, the score was even and the Sena was in a forgiving mood.

All Khan needed to do was follow the Bollywood tradition and set course for Matoshree.

But he refused to bow down, giving interviews on TV and repeating his stand that he believed he had nothing to apologise for. “I very very clearly want to say that there is no reason to apologise and it’s just a big fuss,” Khan told CNN-IBN Editor-in-Chief Rajdeep Sardesai.

This was too much for the one-time First Family of Mumbai. “Its simple. Shah Rukh has annoyed them [the Thackerays] by going about on different television channels,” Sena leader Ravindra Waikar said on Wednesday. “We wanted Shah Rukh to meet Balasaheb and explain his stand personally.”

The Sena had already lost face on Friday, when Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi ignored veiled threats from the Sena and discarded his chopper and itinerary to storm Sena bastion Dadar on a local train.

Union Agriculture Minister and NCP chief Sharad Pawar gave the party a morale boost by visiting Matoshree — the Thackeray residence — and asking permission for Australian cricketers to play in the city.

The Sena had called for a ban on Aussie players following the attacks on Indians Down Under.

Following Pawar’s visit, the Sena has taken to the streets. Leaders like Manohar Joshi have said they will not let the movie run till Khan apologises.

Meanwhile, My Name Is Khan director-producer Karan Johar met the chief minister, home minister and police commissioner on Tuesday to confirm they would control the Sena.

This was a worse blow to the party because, just last October, Johar had scurried off to Sena rebel and arch rival Raj Thackeray to apologise for referring to Mumbai as Bombay in a song in his film Wake Up Sid.