Recent announcement of donating Rs 5 Cr. to Army welfare fund by bollywood producer-director Karan Johar cannot be repentance for sins of commission and omission by political parties
By Guru Aiyar (@guruaiyar)
In one of the most brazen forms of extortion witnessed in recent times, a political party in Mumbai extracted a promise of donating Rs 5 Cr to the Indian Army from Karan Johar. The reason for asking this kind of money was for penance by Karan Johar for casting Pakistani actor Fawad Khan in his yet to be released movie Ae dil hai Mushkil. The capitulation of Karan Johar and Maharshtra state Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, who brokered the deal has been one of ultimate cravenness in the face of unreasonable demands. Politicisation of the army in this manner reeks of selfishness to further the short term goals of the party in question.
There wouldn’t have been any issue if the donation was voluntary. It gained salience only because the director was threatened with violence. The scheduled release on October 28 was put on hold because the party workers of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) had orchestrated protests. A party that managed to garner only a single seat in the assembly elections of 2014 in Maharashtra saw this as a perfect opportunity to capture public mindspace.
There is nothing wrong in wanting to respect the army and the sacrifice of its soldiers. To find common cause in a soldier guarding the nation’s frontier should be a matter of pride for any citizen. What runs counter to common sense logic is why to mix the issues of Pakistani artistes working in Indian movies and the army? The issue of granting visas to Pakistani artistes must have been taken only after deliberation by the central government.
Fortunately, the defence and Information and Broadcasting ministers have slammed this deal. That was to clearly demonstrate to the public that the central government does not appreciate this act of coercive donation. The army too has refused to accept this money. But the centre could have gone further. Mere condemnation is not enough. It is time to ask as to why should the rule of law be subverted? Why should any government give in to this form of thuggery? Now since the issue is deemed to be settled, should we expect the workers of the MNS to get back to their daily life? Of course, no. We can certainly expect some other kind of protest over seemingly inane issues.
Guru Aiyar is a Research Fellow in geostrategy programme at Takshashila and tweets @guruaiyar.
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