Days after Aparna Sen and 49 other celebrities wrote a letter to Prime Minister Modi claiming India's rising intolerance, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, a signatory to the letter met Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and sought his support. Coming out in support of the celebrities, the Kerala Chief Minister also extended all support to renowned filmmaker over BJP's criticism. In what may be called a response to the letters and a slamming of the selective outrage of the lobby, 69 other celebrities including filmmaker Madhur Bhandarkara and actor Kangana Ranaut wrote a letter.
After Gopalakrishnan's letter that claimed that 'Jai Shri Ram has become a war-cry', BJP leader slammed him by asking him to shift to the Moon if he was unable to tolerate those chanting "Jai Sri Ram." BJP spokesperson in Kerala had hit out at the auteur saying he was a respected filmmaker, but cannot 'insult' the culture of the country.
"The BJP leadership also comes out in support of such statements. This has been happening in other parts of the country. I would like to remind them that this plan won't work out in Kerala. We have seen how well Keralites were united and backed Adoor. I just want to remind them about that," Vijayan told the media after meeting Adoor.
The chief minister said "secular forces" would continue to defend the state which will always follow a distinctive culture. Vijayan said Adoor has got the support of the whole of Kerala. "I just wanted to reassure all the support to him," Vijayan said.
Rajya Sabha member M P Veerendra Kumar also condemned the BJP leader's statement. Veerendra Kumar said mob attacks on minorities were on the rise and all those who believe in democracy are upset with the rising incidents of lynching in the country. Opposition Leader Ramesh Chennithala also visited and assured Adoor all support.
"If you are not keen to hear it (Jai Sri Ram), please register your name at Sriharikota and you can go to the moon", the BJP leader had told Adoor in a sarcasm-laced post, adding it will be better if he changed his name.
Penning a letter on July 23, Aparna Sen and others wrote a letter to the Prime Minsiter. They asked in their letter on actions taken against those perpetrating violence in name of religion. "What action has been actually been taken against the perpetrators? We strongly feel that such offences should be declared non-bailable, and that exemplary punishment should be meted out swiftly and surely."
They went on to state that "Jai Shri Ram" has become provocative 'war-cry' that leads to law and order problems. They stated that 'criticising the ruling party does not imply criticising the nation. They end the letter stating that they are "Indians genuinely concerned with, and anxious about, the fate of our nation.' Claiming that there is no democracy without dissent, the celebrities expressed that no certain individual should be branded as 'anti-national' or 'Urban Naxal' because of the dissent against the government.
Addressing the prior 'intolerance' letter written to the Prime Minister, the counter document by 62 celebrities including the likes of Kangana Ranaut, Prasoon Joshi and Madhur Bhandarkar called the the Forty-nine celebrities as self-styled “guardians” and “conscience keepers” of the nation with selective concern and claimed that they have demonstrated clear political bias and motive.
"The signatories to the “open letter” have, in the past, kept silent when tribals have become victims of Naxal terror, and when separatists have issued dictates to burn schools in Kashmir, including when the demand for dismembering India, for making pieces of her -Tukde Tukde – were made, they kept silent when slogans chanted by terrorists", read an excerpt from the letter. Listing twelve flashpoints that the former letter's signatories have strangely kept quiet on, the 2-page document also states that the 'intolerance' lobby did not display the courage to stand beside women who are struggling against the regressive Triple Talaq tradition and that they choose to speak up only on 'selective issues'.
(with PTI inputs)