Facing heat over “brokering” a deal between producers of “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil” and MNS chief Raj Thackeray, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis maintained that he had opposed the offer of Rs 5 crore contribution from the film makers to the Army welfare fund. Fadnavis, however, defended his intervention to resolve the issue, saying democratic governments at times would even talk to separatists and left ultras for the sake of peace.
Karan Johar’s film faced protests by MNS workers for casting Pakistani actor Fawad Khan. The film’s smooth release, later this week, was ensured at a meeting of Film Producers’ Guild, producers and MNS leader Raj Thackeray, mediated by Fadnavis last week.
A key demand conceded at the meeting was Rs 5 crore contribution from makers for the army welfare, which sparked strong reactions from opposition parties and some army veterans.
“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 producers’ decision to accept it,” Fadnavis said last evening 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 MNS but was not agreed in the meeting and turned down then and there only,” he said.
Asked about the opposition allegations of “brokering” the deal shirking his prime duty of ensuring land and order, he said, “Another choice was deploying thousands of police staff outside theatres (when film releases). I would then face allegations like I have spoiled Diwali holiday of police staff. Issues should be solved by talking, and we are a democratic government,” he said.
Before the intervention, Mumbai Police had arrested MNS activists who demonstrated over the issue, 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.
Apart from the opposition, ruling partner Shiv Sena has slammed Fadnavis’s intervention in the matter and had termed it as an act of “siding with Pakistani personalities.”
On this, the CM 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 a comparatively a minor ssue, should not be criticised so bitterly. I think, successful mediation has disappointed some people,” he said.
He also refuted charges of going soft on MNS and emphasised that there was “no political motive” behind such negotiations.