WHILE THE party has not commented on the protests over Padmaavat, two of the five BJP-ruled states which witnessed violence by Karni Sena and other fringe groups have assured protection for cinema halls which want to screen the film.
“In Uttar Pradesh, its Yogi Raj now, not Jungle Raj. In Yogi Raj, nobody is allowed to take the law and order in their hands,” said Sidharth Nath Singh, Uttar Pradesh Health Minister.
“If anyone tries to interfere with the law and order system, they will face stringent action… I can only talk about Uttar Pradesh. In Uttar Pradesh, we are strengthening the institutions…There are no ifs and buts here. We respect the directions of the constitutional bodies,” he said. “There are democratic ways to protest. We are ready to give them a sensitive hearing. At the same time, once things are decided by constitutional authorities and responsibilities assigned, the job of the state is to protect and maintain law and order,” said Singh, who is also a spokesperson of the state government.
A day after a schoolbus was attacked by protesters in Gurgaon, Anil Jain, general secretary in charge of party affairs in Haryana, told The Indian Express that Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar has been asked to ensure adequate protection to those who want to screen the film. “You cannot force anyone to show the movie, but if someone wants to show it, they need to be given protection. Violence of any sort is not acceptable to the BJP,” said Jain.
While BJP-ruled Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Gujarat and Goa have not given any assurance so far, a source in the BJP said the party leadership was likely to give instructions to these states also “because BJP is a party that respects the Supreme Court’s orders.” The source added that the issue may be discussed at the BJP’s core committee on January 30.
The Multiplex Association of India had said on Wednesday that the film would not be screened in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Goa.
Meanwhile, in a series of tweets, Union Minister of State V K Singh, a Rajput, said nobody had the right to resort to violence as “in a vibrant democracy like ours, we will come across situations when one person’s freedom of expression is at loggerheads with another’s pride or beliefs”.
Reminding that the onus is on the state governments to facilitate the smooth screening of Padmaavat, he said the states need to “bring together various stakeholders… and have a dialogue”. Appealing for peace, he said, “this is our country and it’s our collective responsibility to build it into a strong nation.”
The BJP has not made any official comment on the issue. Sources said the party spokespersons have been asked not to comment or participate in discussions on the matter. While some of the party’s Rajput MPs said director Sanjay Leela Bhansali should have respected the sentiments of the community, they also condemned the violence and the attack on a schoolbus in Gurgaon.
“People’s sentiments should have been respected. You cannot hurt their feelings in the name of freedom of speech,” said party general secretary Kailash Vijayvargiya.
“Bhansali should not have made such a film,” said Sushil Kumar Singh, BJP MP from Aurangabad. “The movie — I have seen the trailer only — has shown Rani Padmavati dancing… She was a Rani and a Veerangana, not a dancer… You are playing with history,” he said.
“In a democracy, people are supreme. If something hurts the sentiments of the people, it cannot be allowed. Nobody has the right to hurt the people,” said Janardan Singh Sigriwal, BJP MP from Maharajganj.
The Rajput community has considerable presence in many BJP-ruled states, including Rajasthan and Gujarat, and has traditionally supported the party.
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