‘Ae Dil...’ row: Naidu says Rs 5-cr ‘penance’ wrong, Fadnavis clarifies stand
Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has maintained that he opposed the offer of Rs 5 crore contribution from the film makers to the Army Welfare Fund.
Karan Johar’s film faced protests by MNS workers for casting Pakistani actor Fawad Khan. The film’s smooth release, scheduled to open on October 28, was ensured at a meeting among the Film Producers’ Guild, the producers and Thackeray, mediated by Mr. Fadnavis last week. A key demand conceded at the meeting was Rs 5 crore contribution from the film makers to the Army Welfare Fund.
“Thackeray had put three demands, out of which there was no objections to the other two. When the issue of Rs 5 crore came up, I intervened and made it clear to the Film Producers’ Guild that they need not have to agree to it. I also told them that the contribution has to be made voluntarily. However, it was the producers’ decision to accept it,” Mr. Fadnavis said at his residence, ‘Varsha’.
“I categorically told that although it is nice that the Guild has decided to stand by the families of our martyrs but it is not a compulsion. Still if they wish to do, they may contribute whatever amount they feel [is] appropriate. This figure of [Rs] 5 crore came from the MNS but was not agreed in the meeting and turned down then and there only,” he said.
When asked about allegations of “brokering” the deal, he said, “Another choice was deploying thousands of police staff outside theatres [when the film releases]. I would then faced allegations like I have spoiled Diwali holiday mood of police staff. Issues should be solved by talking, and we are a democratic government.”
Before intervention, the Mumbai Police had arrested MNS activists, hence there should not be any doubts about the government’s intentions. Some even called that the government is playing both sides, which is not true, he added.
The BJP’s ally, the Shiv Sena, has slammed the Chief Minister’s intervention in the matter and termed Fadnavis’s act “siding with Pakistani personalities.”
On this, Mr. Fadnavis said, “Did our governments not talk with separatists like Hurriyat [Conference] or negotiate with Naxal groups for peace? Then holding discussions with a political party, though this is comparatively a minor one [issue], should not be criticised so bitterly. I think, successful mediation has disappointed some people.”
He also refuted charges of going soft on the MNS and emphasised that there was “no political motive” behind such negotiations.