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Oct. 23 (PTI): Actress Shabana Azmi today criticised Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis for brokering yesterday’s deal between Raj Thackeray and Karan Johar while the Congress demanded his dismissal for aiding “extortion” of the film industry.
But emboldened by its success, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena asked traders to “sacrifice” their business with Pakistan for the sake of the “nation”, dismissing statements from cotton exporters who said the party’s stand would affect the industry.
Johar and other producers had met Raj at Fadnavis’s home to agree to pay Rs 5 crore to an army fund and stop hiring Pakistani artistes in exchange for Johar’s film Ae Dil Hai Mushkil releasing safely on Friday.
Raj’s party had threatened not to allow the release of films featuring Pakistani artistes – Ae Dil stars Pakistan’s Fawad Khan.
“What a sorry state of affairs! CM brokers deal and buys patriotism for 5 crores! After Home minister had promised peaceful passage for #ADHM,” Shabana, 66, tweeted.
Union home minister Rajnath Singh had earlier promised a smooth release for the film at a meeting with producers.
“CM Fadnavis shows scant respect for Home Ministers assurance of safe passage for #ADHM. BJP better haul him up and demand explanation,” Shabana posted.
She slammed Raj too. “MNS will decide whether I am patriotic or not? I bow to the Indian Constitution, Raj Thackeray does not. Whose patriotism needs questioning?”
Congress spokesperson Tom Vadakkan slammed the “extortion” and “blackmail” the film industry had undergone.
“The chief minister, who should protect the film industry, himself presided over a meeting with the MNS chief in which the controversial deal was struck. What kind of chief minister is he? Is the rule of law relevant in Maharashtra?” he said.
He said Prime Minister Narendra Modi “talks much about surgical strikes and so he should do surgery on Fadnavis by dismissing him”.
The CPM politburo accused Fadnavis of “facilitating extortion” and described the deal as a “gross insult” to the valour of the soldiers.
Party general secretary Sitaram Yechury tweeted: “The failure of Maha govt should be taken serious note of by the Central govt in accordance with the constitutional provisions.”
But MNS spokesperson Shalini Thackeray, speaking in the country’s financial capital of Mumbai, said her party would play its role in ensuring the stoppage of all trade with Pakistan. She added that the “government will have to play a major role” too.
“Nation should be first. If jawans are sacrificing their lives, why can’t traders sacrifice their trade? Money-making should be a secondary priority in case of Pakistan,” Shalini said.
“It’s high time that India isolate Pakistan not only on cultural issues but on trade as well. Banning the film ( Ae Dil) was only to set an example…. Next comes trade.”
Cotton traders said they feared losing Rs 5,500 crore worth of business with Pakistan. Maharashtra is among the country’s biggest cotton growers.
Sharadram Sejpal, spokesperson for the Power Loom Association, said: “At a time when we are expecting a record-breaking production (of cotton), the MNS stand against Pakistani actors (means) the cotton industry and the power loom industry too will have to suffer.”
Shalini countered: “Cotton associations should themselves come up and stop exporting to Pak, instead of them banning our imports.”
Pradeep Jain, who operates a ginning mill in Jalgaon, said Maharashtra would record a bumper cotton crop this year because of a very good monsoon.
“If exports are stuck because of sentiments of patriotism after the Uri attack, it will have a negative impact on the cotton industry, specifically on cotton-growing farmers,” he said.
“Pakistan starts importing cotton from September. It consumes an average of 20 to 25 lakh bales (3.4 lakh tonnes to 4.3 lakh tonnes).”
This article was originally published on http://www.telegraphindia.com/1161024/jsp/nation/story_115256.jsp