Barbs fly after BJP tweets trailer of film ‘The Accidental Prime Minister’
The Congress has downplayed the furore surrounding The Accidental Prime Minister, based on a book of the same name, which was a fly-on-the-wall account of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s years in office between 2004 and 2014, written by his media advisor Sanjaya Baru, and is unlikely to seek a ban on it, according to Congress leaders.
However, the party has lashed out at the Bharatiya Janata Party, whose official Twitter handle promptly tweeted the trailer which was released on Thursday.
“Riveting tale of how a family held the country to ransom for 10 long years. Was Dr Singh just a regent who was holding on to the PM’s chair till the time heir was ready? Watch the official trailer of #TheAccidentalPrimeMinister, based on an insider’s account, releasing on 11 Jan!” the BJP handle tweeted.
The party’s chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala lashed out at the BJP and dubbed the rival party’s promotion of the trailer as propaganda.
“Such fake propaganda by BJP won’t desist @INCIndia from questioning the Modi Govt on - Rural Distress, Rampant Unemployment, Demonetisation Disaster, Flawed GST, Failed Modinomics, All pervading Corruption!” he tweeted on Thursday.
The trailer of the film, starring Anupam Kher as former PM Singh comes at a time when the Congress is busy attacking PM Narendra Modi over a host of issues. It also comes shortly after the BJP lost Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh to the Congress in recent state polls.
Despite senior leaders deciding to stay away from commenting on the trailer, some Congressmen, in some states demanded a ban on the movie. There were rumours the MP government would ban the film, but the state government clarified it had taken no such decision.
One of the film’s producers Ashoke Pandit told CNN News 18 that the book was based on Baru’s book which was published in 2014 and that the Congress hadn’t protested the book’s release or disputed the facts in it. Kher held a press conference in Mumbai and said this was the most challenging role he has played. The Congress should be happy a film has been made on their leader, he added.
The Congress dubbed the book “the mother of all plants” at the time. “The political relationship between PM Manmohan Singh and the Congress President is an inspiring example of the great democratic tradition of selfless cooperation of political leaders in the best interests of our nation, established and fostered in the Congress party by Mahatma Gandhi,” it added in a statement then. The trailer seems to suggest that Singh was merely keeping the seat warm for Rahul Gandhi. It also shows UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi treating Singh disdainfully — for instance, reacting to his plan to build bridges with Pakistan to solve the Kashmir issue by asking him what the next Prime Minister would do if he insisted on doing this; or, reacting to his offer to resign by saying he couldn’t resign because Rahul Gandhi couldn’t take over at a time when the government was beseiged by corruption scandals.
Baru was Singh’s media advisor till 2008.
The Congress’ ally in the UPA, J&K National Conference chief Omar Abdullah tweeted: “Can’t wait for when they make The Insensitive Prime Minister. So much worse than being the accidental one.” Senior Congress functionaries said the Congress would react to the movie the same way it did to Netflix’s Sacred Games and Madhur Bhandarkar’s movie Indu Sarkar, a thinly veiled rendition of Indira Gandhi’s rule during the emergency. The Congress president rejected demands from some workers for censoring certain “derogatory” references to former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in Sacred Games.
Rahul Gandhi said he did not believe the freedom of expression should be policed and remarks by a fictional character would not change his father’s contribution to the country.
Manmohan Singh, who is believed to have felt a sense of betrayal when he read the book, is also unlikely to react. When contacted, his aide said, “He is not interested in commenting about the movie.”
A senior Congress leader said on the condition of anonymity that people would soon lose interest in the movie. “It is imperative for us to keep the focus on real issues and the failures of the Modi government and not let the BJP divert the attention from pressing issues of agrarian distress, unemployment and the failed economy.”
Rajyavardhan Rathore, the Union minister for information and broadcasting and also sports defended the tweet by the BJP handle. “Can’t we extend our wishes for a film?” he asked.
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