When the Chief Minister of a State one is residing in presides over an extortion deal and that too in the CM’s official residence, the song that comes to my lips often these days is, “Aye Dil Hey Mushkil Jina Yaha, Jara Bachke, Jara Hatke Yeh Hey Bombay Meri Jaan!” The deplorable act of Mr. Devendra Fadnavis of having brokered the ransom deal between the filmmakers of Aye Dil Hai Mushkil and the chief of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) for the film to be screened in theaters is being criticized strongly.
Among the many critiques of this incidence, one very strong piece of analysis that I came across was by a senior Gujarati journalist Mr. Ajay Umat whose article has been published in a Gujarati daily NavGujarat Samay, of the Times Group.
I translate some excerpts from the article to the best of my ability for a wider readership here.
[For those who wish to read the piece in original Gujarati could go to the link http://epaper.navgujaratsamay.com/paper/11-9@9-23@email@example.com ]
Sunday Navgujaratsamay Ahmedabad 23 Oct 2016
“Aye Dil Hey Mushkil”: Tax/Impost in the name of Army Martyrdom?
Point of order
Point of order
[By] Ajay Umat
“The saying that ‘the world bows down, if there is someone who can make it bend ’, has been proved correct by the Supremo of MNS Raj Thackeray. Can you imagine the terrible picture of raw bullying in Mumbai by Raj Thackeray who in the last election won only three percentages of votes and just one seat in the 288 member legislative assembly? At the residence of the Chief Minister of Maharashtra ,on one side, cutting a sorry figure are sitting Karan Johar, the producer of the film ‘Aye Dil Hey Mushkil’ and the president of film and television guild of India, Mukesh Bhatt. While on the other side is the Chief Minister of Maharashtra Devendra Fadnavis in the role of an expert mediator. While Raj Thackeray, indulging in raw bullying, in the pose of a judge, announces his judgement and orders that from today I will not allow in Indian films Pakistani artists, singers and musicians. If the film ‘Aye Dil Hey Mushkil’ is to be released, pay five crores to the Indian army welfare fund and also give in writing that from today, no Pakistani artist will have any place in Bollywood films.
The command of Raj Thackeray is received wholeheartedly by the Bollywood producers Karan Johar as well as Mukesh Bhatt and the Chief Minister of Maharashtra announces this compromise happily through his twitter handle.
Is this not a shameful incident? What is Raj Thackeray’s status? The Chief Minister of Maharashtra who is running the coalition Government of BJP and Shiv Sena falls on his knees before Raj Thackeray and accepts his terrorism so that the people of Maharashtra can be entertained. At the residence of the Chief Minister, Karan Johar and his group ... are agreeable to pay a tribute of rupees five crores because Karan Johar, Mukesh Bhatt and the entire Bollywood is convinced that the Chief Minister of Maharashtra is without any spine. Raj Thackeray wanted that Fadnavis bows, instead the Government of Maharashtra prostrated. The producers of Bollywood [films] are aware that the tribute of five crores is reasonable as against the price of the glass panels of multiplex film screens as well as the expenditure incurred in making the film. Albeit, Raj Thackeray considers this as penitence and a penalty for the justice delivered.
It seems as if Gandhi’s principles of truth, non-violence and peace have been exiled. Probably the weapon of indefinite fast in the struggle by Anna Hazare, Maharashtra’s dutiful son has been blunted. This is because the Chief Minister of Maharashtra who had pledged to abide by the constitution of India has surrendered to Raj Thackeray and has accepted his fast and furious style of justice. It is probable that in the coming days Raj Thackeray will change the preface of the constitution from ‘we the people’ to ‘we the bullies’. Besides, it may be proved that in this country, those who can twist the wrist can bring in jungle raj in Bharat.
The puzzling question is- who is Raj Thackeray? In this country the authority to decide which film should be screened or not dwells with the Modi Government and the censor board. It does not dwell with Raj Thackeray. Where has Raj Thackeray got the authority to impose a fine of five crores? The tragedy is, helpless before the bullying of Raj Thackeray; Fadnavis uses the Chief Minister’s bungalow to arrive at a compromise. Should the citizens of this country tolerate such type of bulling and intimidation? In the coming days how many goons, plunderers, bandits, rogues will Fadnavis submit and give legitimacy to?
Severely rebuking the above incident, the [ex] commissioner of Mumbai police and a BJP parliamentarian himself, Mr. Satyapal Singh has said that the policy and conduct of Fadnavis is totally wrong. How can any person extract surety form film producers and compel them to pay five crores? The Chief Minister should have considered this a question of law and order and should have acted sternly. Satyapla Singh has expressed fear that in the coming days, this kind of a compromise may set a wrong precedent. Indian Army has declared this obstruction by Raj Thackeray impure. [Former] Lieutenant General B.S. Jaswal has said that Indian Army and its retired jawans are not begging for alms. The Indian Army is above politics and political parties. Please stop such disruptions by twisting wrists in the name of the Army. Stop blackmailing Bollywood in the name of the Army. We cannot digest forceful charity imposed on Bollywood. The retired officers of the Indian Army are questioning - who is Raj Thackeray to measure the martyrdom of jawans? ...Kindly stop deriving political gains in the name of Army. Air force’s retired Air Marshall Manohar Bahadur says that we have been trying to serve the country for the past forty years. Will the jawans now have to take for welfare money collected as tax? Hey Ram! What is happening in my country? Through his twitter handle Manohar Bahadur has warned Raj Thackeray to not to cash on the sentiments and sympathies of the nation... Without naming Raj Thackeray, the Defense Ministry has declared that the donations given to the army welfare fund should be given willingly and not by force. Congress and NCP have asked - what is the theoretical difference between today’s situation and the imposition of tax on Bollywood by Dawood Ibrahim and Chota Rajan?
The fundamental problem is that the leaders of this country do not adopt a clear stand when required because of the politics of vote...When Raj Thackeray agitated on the streets of Mumbai on the issue of Mharashtrians against Biharies, the other political parties remained silent because they were scared to adopt a clear stand. When Shiv Sena dug up the cricket pitch of Wankhede stadium in Mumbai and Feroz Shah Kotla grounds in Delhi, the concerned Government had not declared it as treason. Instead the venue of cricket was changed. Raj Thackeray in the name of ‘Marathi Manus’ promoted parochialism. He formed Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, built muscle power and is aiming the gun at Bollywood.
One issue that is being discussed on social media is that after the producers of Bollywood pay rupees five crores to the army welfare fund as repentance ...how much money will have to be paid to Raj Thackeray’s party? There cannot be any ‘cess’ in the name of patriotism. The rule of law should prevail in the country. In a democracy there is no place for unconstitutional obstruction by Raj Thackeray... If such obstacles carry on then there is a possibility that tomorrow Raj Thackeray may decide the price on the Pakistani players in IPL also.
Disturbed by the obstacles created by Raj Thackeray, Ratan Tata has said - the growing intolerance in the country will prove to be dangerous in the future.
Fadnavis should tell Raj Thackeray that there is no need to cross Lakshman Rekha – the line of control in politics. If your love for the country is overflowing, show your bravery at the border by crossing the line of control. Kindly do not sow the seeds of goondraj in Mumbai. "
[By Ajay Umat ]