Amid the controversy sparked off after Deepika Padukone's visit to Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) on Monday, CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat on Friday slammed Union Minister Smriti Irani for her harsh remark on the Chhapaak actor. Karat said that Irani is trying to bully and intimidate Bollywood stars for standing up against violence. She also mentioned that Irani is misusing her power as a Union Minister.
In an exclusive interview with Republic TV, Karat said, "I think it is extremely unfortunate that a union minister in the Modi government cannot condemn the entry of masked men into a university campus and the mayhem and violence they have created including hitting the JNUSU president on her head with an iron rod. It is extremely unfortunate. We expect that those who are in higher public office like Smriti Irani should at least herself come out on such hooliganism in a premier institute in India. Instead of which she is intimidating and bullying people in the film industry who have the courage to come out and express solidarity with the victims of such violence.."
"It is unfortunate that Smriti Irani is misusing her position as union minister to pedal such lives. She herself has been a part of such industry, the industry of entertainment. She knows that at that time as an individual she had the right to take any political stand she wanted and therefore to say that this was a part of publicity is again bullying and intimidating people and saying 'shut up' unless you speak on behalf of government unless you represent my views you have to shut up."
Union Minister Smriti Irani reacted on the actress' visit and said, "She knew she is standing with those people who said 'Bharat tere tukde honge'. It's her democratic right to stand with whoever she wants, she must be ok with whom she was standing — the ones who celebrated the killing of CRPF Jawans.
At an event, Irani said, "It was not unexpected to us that she was going to stand with people who want the destruction of India. She sided with people who hit girls on their private parts with lathis. I can't deny her that right. I think we should decide which side you want to stand. Do you want to stand with people who wanted the destruction of India? Every time a CRPF jawan is killed, they celebrate. She made her political affiliation known in 2011 that she supports the Congress Party. If people are surprised by this, it is because they didn't know. There were a lot of admirers of hers who have just discovered her position. As far as Deepika goes, I rather know where she stands. Stand. Stand next to people who said, 'Bharat Tere Tukde Honge'."
Deepika visited the varsity in an apparent expression of solidarity with the students after the horrific attack. Dressed in a black sweater, the actor was seen along with groups of students and other protesters. While many have come in support of the actor for visiting JNU amidst the conflict, she has also drawn conflicting views on social media. Republic TV sources had claimed that her visit was a part of the film (Chhapaak) promotions. A few tweets by various media organizations, with Deepika and JNUSU President Aishe Gosh's pictures, were sourced to the PR firm ‘SPICE PR’ which have raised more questions amongst netizens. Former JNU Students' Union President Kanhaiya Kumar was present at that time and seen amid the sloganeering, though he claimed later to have not seen her.