Amid the Padmavati row, Vice President Venkaiah Naidu said on Saturday that “giving violent threats” and announcing rewards for physical harm were not acceptable in a democracy. Speaking at The Times Lit Fest on Saturday, Naidu said, “Whether these fellows have that much money or not, I doubt. Everyone is announcing Rs 1 crore rewards. Is it so easy to have Rs 1 crore? This is not acceptable in a democracy. You have the right to protest in a democratic manner, go to the appropriate authorities… you cannot physically obstruct and give violent threats. Let us not undermine the rule of law.”
Though Naidu did not name Padmavati, his comments come barely a week after the chief media coordinator of BJP’s Haryana unit, Suraj Pal Amu, declared that he would double the bounty on the heads of the movie’s lead actor, Deepika Padukone, and director Sanjay Leela Bhansali to Rs 10 crore, from the Rs 5 crore announced earlier. Top government functionaries of BJP-ruled states such as Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Gujarat have joined the chorus of protests against the movie.
Stressing that he was not talking about any particular film, Naidu read out the names of previously banned movies such as Garam Hawa, Kissa Kursi Ka and Aandhi and added, “You have no right to take the law into your own hands. At the same time, you don’t have the right to hurt the sentiments of others.”
He also warned against “selective outrage”, when the outrage of one community is given space but that of the other isn’t.
He quoted former president Pranab Mukherjee to emphasise the need for Parliament to function with fewer disruptions. He said the issue was not how many days Parliament sat, but how many days it functioned. “Dissent is agreeable but not disintegration,” he said.
He also spoke highly of the Goods and Services Tax and said the point of demonetisation was to get money back into banks.