The Maharashtra Congress has offered to organise a concert by Ghulam Ali in Mumbai, following cancellation of a performance by the Pakistani ghazal singer under pressure from the Shiv Sena.
In a statement issued by former chief minister Ashok Chavan, the party said, “Considering the demand of crores of Mumbaikars, Maharashtra Congress proposes to organise Ustad Ghulam Ali ji’s concert in Mumbai.”
Party leader Sachin Sawant said he had already contacted Ghulam Ali about the proposal. “He asked us to send him the invite,” Sawant said.
The organisers of a Ghulam Ali concert, which was to be held in the city on Friday, had cancelled the event under pressure from the Shiv Sena, even though Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had offered protection to the organisers.
The Congress move is being seen as a dare to the Shiv Sena, while scoring a point over the BJP. The Shiv Sena has, in turn, declared that it will thwart any plans to hold the concert in the city. The party had earlier slammed the governments of Delhi and West Bengal for extending invitations to Ghulam Ali for a concert.
Meanwhile, the Observer Research Foundation, which is organising a book launch in Mumbai featuring former Pakistan foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri, has approached Fadnavis seeking protection for the guest. Kasuri will be in the city Monday for the launch of his book ‘Neither a Hawk Nor a Dove’.
ORF head Sudheendra Kulkarni wrote to Fadnavis on Thursday seeking protection for Kasuri. “Our purpose in organising the function is to make our own humble contribution to the much-needed normalisation of relations between India and Pakistan. Even a cursory glance at the book demonstrates that Kasuri strongly believes in peaceful and cooperative relations between our two countries,” he wrote.
“Security for an eminent Pakistani dignitary like him would be necessary even in normal circumstances. However, the need has grown manifold in light of the recent reprehensible episode when the Shiv Sena successfully terrorised the organisers of a concert in Mumbai by Ghulam Ali to call it off,” the letter added. Kulkarni marked a copy of the letter to Mumbai Police Commissioner Ahmed Javed.