Plea to vote for ‘secular party’ splits Bollywood

A section of the film industry has condemned the appeal, viewing it as propaganda against BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.

Written by Dipti Nagpaul | Mumbai | Updated: April 17, 2014 10:11 am

An appeal by some members of the Hindi film industry, asking people to vote for a “secular party”, has left the fraternity divided. The appeal, an initiative by screenwriter Anjum Rajabali, has been signed by nearly 60 people, including filmmakers Vishal Bhardwaj, Imtiaz Ali, Zoya Akhtar and Kabir Khan.

Stating that the “need of the hour is to protect our country’s secular foundation”, the appeal says, “Undoubtedly, corruption and governance are important issues, but we will have to vigilantly work out ways of holding our government accountable… However, one thing is clear: India’s secular character is not negotiable… We appeal to you to vote for the secular party which is most likely to win in your constituency.”

While it does not name any party, Rajabali said, “It’s absolutely clear that we are referring to any party that does not have a secular approach, which means the right wing BJP and its allies.” He said a party that does not support cultural diversity and pluralism can pose a threat to artistic thought and expression.

A section of the film industry has condemned the appeal, viewing it as propaganda against BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.

“Shocking to see some colleagues, under the garb of stopping so-called divisive forces, are themselves dividing a secular place like Bollywood,” tweeted director Madhur Bhandarkar.

“Launching a personal attack on a man who has done more for his state than any other leader reeks of conspiracy and unwarranted paranoia… Let’s hope better sense prevails and our film industry elects Narendra Modi with a thumping majority. It’s time India got a visionary leader,” he tweeted.

He was supported by Jeetendra’s son, actor Tusshar Kapoor, and film producer and analyst Ashoke Pandit among others.

Actor Anupam Kher, whose wife Kirron Kher is the BJP’s candidate in Chandigarh, tweeted, “Since few of my colleagues are telling people who to vote for, it is also important to tell people to vote for Narendra Modi for the betterment of India.”

While Mahesh Bhatt supported Rajabali’s appeal, his brother Mukesh, who is also the president of the Film and Television Producers Guild of India, objected to the way the letter was being made out to be the industry’s voice. “We, as an industry, are apolitical and such a letter can hold sway over people one way or the other,” he said.

But Rajabali clarified that the appeal does not officially represent the industry. He said the letter, which has been sent to 350 people from the fraternity, also does not seek support for any party, especially the Congress.

“I knew some people may find themselves in a vulnerable position, but it’s commendable that people who have mostly remained silent on the issue have now chosen to voice their concerns. The fact that the count (of signatories) has already reached 60, when I have only been able to reach out to a limited number of people, indicates that the fraternity is concerned about what may unfold if the BJP comes to power,” he said.

One of the signatories, director Hansal Mehta, who bagged a National Award for his film Shahid on Wednesday, said he supported the appeal as the secular voice of the arts may be lost. “I support the AAP, so the argument that the letter is a Congress propaganda does not stand,” he said.

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  1. S
    shiban
    Apr 17, 2014 at 8:40 am
    This is as a direct consequence of the elements having soft corner towards bolywoods' financier Dowood & Co having grown in strength.
    Reply
  2. C
    Chetan N
    Apr 17, 2014 at 12:51 am
    Time for the great "fake"ular party to be kicked out!
    Reply
  3. B
    BJ
    Apr 17, 2014 at 2:37 am
    This means Cong hand in gloves with AAP to stop Modi. But Modi would still win.
    Reply
  4. K
    Kirit
    Apr 17, 2014 at 12:52 pm
    ok. so 60 out of 350 letters. That is less than 20%. Who are these people propagating their own interest in the name of secularism? Do any one of these people can even tell us what secularism means? I bet you everyone's answer will be different.
    Reply
  5. K
    Krshna
    Apr 17, 2014 at 2:28 pm
    "the argument that the letter is a Congress propaa does not stand,”He is uming that AAP is not B team.
    Reply
  6. C
    chirag
    Apr 17, 2014 at 8:14 am
    writer of this letter is living in 19th century, i request please listen Mr modi carefully and then decide
    Reply
  7. D
    DR SUDHA
    Apr 17, 2014 at 1:20 am
    Mr Rajab ali, why did n't you come up against corruption and good governance , when intense corruption and BAD governance was going on for decades ??? Were you and all your signatories sleeping ?? Now that MR MODI 's wave sweeping across the country, it looks like you all woke up. I don't expect any thing better from Mahesh butt
    Reply
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    prima singh
    Apr 17, 2014 at 2:18 am
    imtiaz ali and zoya akthar ought to be ashamed of themselves to get in such debauchery and divisive decision making in a country that upholds secularism. i do believe imtiaz wife is hindu. see if you would make it in stan or bangladesh. we need to give modi a chance and remove the corrupt congress from indian soils. shame on you guys
    Reply
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