Little did Karan Johar know that his star-studded Ae Dil Hai Mushkil would land in such trouble. Under attack for mediating with the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) for the release of the film, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Monday defended the government’s role and denied that he had brokered any deal.
In an interview with The Indian Express, Fadnavis said, “What is the whole purpose of raising a hue and cry over my meeting Film Producers Guild and MNS to find an amicable solution to end the dispute over the film? Where is the question of my brokering a deal? Or where is the question of compromising on any principle? If talks can be held with the Hurriyat and Naxals, what is wrong in talking with the MNS.”
He further asked that is not a good sign that the government has resolved the issue through discussion.
“If I had not intervened, wouldn’t I have been accused of keeping the tension brewing?” he said.
Fadnavis added that he was not a party in forcing the film producers to donate Rs 5 crore for the Army fund. “The Film Producers Guild approached me to discuss the problem with MNS. At the meeting I made it very clear that the government will not compromise on law and order. I cited the fact that my police force had cracked the whip against 12 MNS activists and would do the same if they took the law in their hands.”
“It was producer Karan Johar who expressed his desire to make a contribution of Rs 5 crore towards the welfare of the families of the martyred soldiers. To which I categorically said there should be no such compulsion. Yet, if you want to show your deshbhakti, there is the Army welfare relief fund where you can help,” he said.
The Chief Minister also said that deploying extra security outside the multiplexes would not have been an issue. However, with the festival of Diwali approaching, why should any tension be allowed to breathe in the state, asked Fadnavis.
With his government set to complete two years at the end of the month, Fadnavis said that the political challenge arising out of Maratha rallies and the tension with ally Shiv Sena did not pose a threat to his chief ministerial post or the stability of his government. “I can state with absolute certainty that I will not be removed because I am a Brahmin. I am here to stay for five years.”
He added that his goal of leading Maharashtra was to “bring parivartan (transformation)” for the masses. Both in my personal life and in the BJP, the emphasis is on inclusive politics, added Fadnavis.
On the issue of Maratha rally, he denied that caste confrontation would mar the government’s record. The government was committed to Maratha reservation and to safeguarding the rights of Dalits/OBCs and the existing quota and Atrocities Act.