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CMs Shivraj, Amarinder jump on anti-'Padmavati' wagon, Mamata says attack on freedom of expression

New Delhi: Even as the release of "Padmavati" has been deferred, three Chief Ministers on Monday jumped into the controversy with Madhya Pradesh's Shivraj Singh Chouhan announcing a ban on the film in his state, while his Punjab counterpart Amarinder Singh backed the Rajput community in its protests against Sanjay Leela Bhansali's historical drama that is mired in controversy.
However, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee described the controversy as "unfortunate" and a "calculated plan" to destroy freedom of expression.
In Jammu and Kashmir, senior National Conference (NC) leader and MLA Devender Rana urged Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti to ban the release of "Padmavati" in the state.
The three chief minister's waded into the controversy after Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Aditynath and his Rajasthan counterpart opposed the release of the film citing threat of serious law and order problem.
The film has been mired in controversy over conjectures that it "distorts history" regarding Rajput queen Padmavati, a contention that Bhansali has repeatedly denied.
Chouhan announced in Bhopal after a meeting with Rajput groups that the film has "distorted history" and thus cannot be allowed for "release" in his state.
"If historical facts are distorted, and if anything is shown or said in the movie against the respect of the country's mother Padmavatiji, then that movie cannot be allowed to release in the land of Madhya Pradesh," Chouhan said, eliciting a rousing applause from the audience.
"And I am saying this because people of the country and Madhya Pradesh cannot accept disrespect of their pride," the BJP leader added.
"The insult will not be tolerated," Chouhan said.
He said even if the movie is passed by the Censor Board for release in the country, it won't make it to the screens in the state.
Amarinder Singh, in his comments said: "Anything that is historical event... no one will object. But here they are distorting history," Singh told reporters.
"I have also gone to Chittor and returned and seen all things there... So, this is distortion of history and no one will accept it."
"And if communities are objecting to it then it is their right to object," the Punjab Chief Minister added.
National Conference (NC) MLA Devender Rana urged Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti to ban the release of 'Padmavati' in Jammu and Kashmir, whenever it gets the go-ahead from the CBFC.
In a letter addressed to Mehbooba Mufti, Rana said: "The release of Sanjay Leela Bhansali's 'Padmavati' is likely to hurt the sentiments of a particular community/religion and thus holds the potential to disrupt peace in Jammu region."
He said he was for a ban on the movie in the state as many delegations from across Jammu region had approached him on the issue in the last couple of days.
The comments come a day after the release of "Padmavati" was "voluntarily" deferred from its scheduled date of December 1.
On Sunday, Uttar Pradesh Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya, had said the film would not be allowed to release in the state unless its "controversial portions were removed".
Even Rajasthan Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje had on Saturday written to Information and Broadcasting Minister Smriti Irani to ensure that "Padmavati" is not released without necessary changes.
But, Mamata Banerjee condemned the ongoing controversy, labelling it as "unfortunate" and a "calculated plan" to destroy freedom of expression.
"The #Padmavati controversy is not only unfortunate but also a calculated plan of a political party to destroy the freedom to express ourselves. We condemn this super emergency," Banerjee tweeted.
The Trinamool Congress supremo exhorted the film industry to protest in unison. "All in the film industry must come together and protest in one voice."
Some Hindu groups, mainly the Karni Sena of Rajasthan, have been vigorously protesting against the movie's release while some political outfits have demanded that its release be deferred in view of the Gujarat Assembly elections.
"Padmavati" features Deepika Padukone, Shahid Kapoor and Ranveer Singh in lead roles.

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