The Madhya Pradesh government’s doggedness over challenging the release of Padmaavat, the movie based on the legend of Rani Padmavati, is deeply disturbing.
The Madhya Pradesh government’s doggedness over challenging the release of Padmaavat, the movie based on the legend of Rani Padmavati, is deeply disturbing. According to different news reports, after the Supreme Court, on Monday, rejected a petition by Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh (MP) to review its January 18 order quashing four states’ ban on the movie, MP has either filed or is mulling over filing a second “review” petition. To be sure, the Supreme Court process provides for what is called a curative petition after the dismissal of a review petition. But the fact that the other states, including Rajasthan, where the Karni Sena—the outfit that is at the epicentre of the onslaught on the movie—is based, have accepted the Supreme Court’s order makes MP’s resolute opposition seem like an act of challenging the wisdom of the highest judiciary. What’s worse, while the state’s home minister Bhupendra Singh has indicated that the government is committed to maintaining law and order, CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan has gone on to say that the matter pertains to public sentiments more than law and order.
But, why single out Madhya Pradesh? Even as Gujarat and the other states maintained that they will abide by the Supreme Court order to facilitate the release of the film, ground realities seem to tell a different story. Mobs in Ahmedabad torched vehicles, vandalised private property, including malls and eating joints. A senior minister of the state cabinet has termed violent protests against the movie “natural”. Deputy chief minister Nitin Patel even called for people to boycott the movie. The duplicity is thus apparent when he says that most theatre-owners had “voluntarily” decided not to screen the movie. In fact, such statements are more an informal instruction to theatre-owners and distributors—“will abide by the SC order” is posturing, they better fall in line with what the political leadership wants. Only when state governments proactively protect private businesses and citizens, and facilitate the screening of the movie, would they have truly upheld the spirit of the SC order.