The BJP distanced itself from the protests called by Shiv Sena outside author Shobhaa De’s residence to protest against the state government’s directive asking multiplexes to screen Marathi films during prime time. The saffron party also said that the Shobhaa had every right to protest while government can protect Marathi culture. Shiv Sena had circulated De’s address on WhatsApp and SMS encouraging people to turn up outside her house for protesting against the tweets posted by her. The ruling alliance partner had sought to move a breach of privilege motion against the novelist.
When AV spoke to BJP spokesperson Madhav Bhandari he said the protests were unwarranted, “We don’t support any agitation. It is Shiv Sena’s agitation against Shobhaa De. Moreover we don’t even approve what she tweeted. Protests had happened in reaction to De’s post which was least expected from her.”
BJP Mumbai spokesperson Shaina NC said, “We believe Marathi cinema must be encouraged but the protest is unnecessary.”
MP Sanjay Raut defended the protest saying that it was the ‘only language’ that she would understand. He also said De’ is reputed writer and also a Maharashtrian and she has no right to post anything anti-Maharashtra or insult the government. The Shiv Sena MP claimed that De’s comments were more disappointing because she was Maharashtrian and said he hoped she would eat the dishes and it would set her mind right.
When AV spoke to Advocate Vandana Shah she said, “Is this the same lot whose hooligan bullies anybody who, according to their warped logic, steps out of line? What is this “Laxman Rekha” that she had crossed? Just because Shobhaa is a renowned personality why should people start bullying her? If you browse the news and read comments, you will find that netizens are agreeing with her post.”
Shiv Sena IT cell member Ramesh Solanki said, “Many, including me, find her comments humiliating towards the local taste. Does she consider popcorn as the food of gods? She is taking things for granted and thinks that everything can be manipulated even at the cost of prestige and pride of Marathis.”
De also tweeted about the protest, saying that even though a Shiv Sena morcha was heading towards her house, Mumbai police had set up barricades around her house and she was feeling ‘perfectly calm and safe’.
There was lesser outrage against her on social network, but hot TV debates and protests have given all that unwanted attention to what she expressed.
The Congress said the whole episode was outrageous and showed that the government “is probably not interested in governance”.
Congress spokesperson Sanjay Jha tweeted: “The protests against @DeShobhaa by the Shiv Sena heralds the launch of election campaigning for the BMC elections. Ridiculous!”
De, reacting to Maharashtra government’s controversial move to make it mandatory for multiplexes to screen Marathi films in the prime time slot, had earlier tweeted: “I love Marathi movies. Let me decide when and where to watch them, Devendra Fadnavis. This is nothing but Dadagiri.”
Meanwhile, the Maharashtra government relaxed its order to multiplexes, saying that they were free to screen Marathi films any time between 12 noon and 9pm.