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UPA politicised censor board, ex-members 'rebels without a cause': Jaitley

Union minister Arun Jaitley on Saturday rejected former censor board members' allegations of interference and corruption and called them "rebels without a cause".

india Updated: Jan 18, 2015 02:15 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Arun Jaitley,censor board row,Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore

Union minister Arun Jaitley on Saturday rejected former censor board members' allegations of interference and corruption and called them "rebels without a cause".

Jaitley, who handles the information and broadcasting ministry along with the finance portfolio, said he and junior minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore had never "communicated" with former chairperson Leela Samson or any other board member.

"At no point either of us have communicated with any member of the censor board or desired that any bureaucrat to do the same. I have not met or spoken to any member of the censor board nor authorised anyone to do the same," said Jaitley in a post on his Facebook page.

Jaitley claimed Samson was "non-functional" as chairperson and had never told him about her suspicion of corruption in the board. "I only wished that the fact of corruption had been communicated even once by the chairperson of the censor board to me. The non-functional chairperson never did so."

The minister disagreed with allegations that the government interfered with the board's work, saying it maintains "arm's length distance in all matters relating to film certification".

"The UPA government had politicised the Censor Board. In 2004 they dismissed the existing censor board headed by an eminent Film actor Anupam Kher merely on the ground that Anupam Kher was appointed by the earlier government. We did not wish to do that. It is regrettable that the UPA appointees have decided to politicise routine issues.

It is the UPA appointed Central Censor Board which has since continued. If there is any corruption, the UPA appointees have themselves to blame," Jaitley said.

He said Samson's allegations that the board didn't meet regularly was a "self condemnation" about her work. "If the meetings are not being convened, it is for those responsible for non-functioning who must blame themselves."

Samson has accused the NDA government of "coercion" and interfering with her decisions on several films, including Aamir Khan-starrer PK. She has also charged the information and broadcasting ministry with stifling her functioning by meddling in "every new film being released, big and small".

On Friday, she resigned after the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT) cleared the controversial film Messenger of God (MSG) starring Dera Saccha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh.

Others who followed suit were film show host Rajeev Masand, theatre personality MK Raina, JNU professor Ira Bhaskar, actor Arundhati Nag, film-maker Shaji Karun, Nikhil Alva, Lora Prabhu and Pankaj Sharma, an AICC secretary.The Censor Board has a total of 23 members.

First Published: Jan 17, 2015 16:45 IST