NEW DELHI — The debate on the rising intolerance in India entered a new phase with Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan becoming the latest victim of the Hindutva ire. The ruling BJP, battling outrage over senior leader Kailash Vijayvargiya’s tweet attack on Shah Rukh Khan, faced more anger Wednesday when party lawmaker Yogi Adityanath compared the popular actor with 26/11 terror mastermind Hafiz Saeed of Pakistan.
“Shah Rukh should understand that if Muslims don’t see his films, he will be on the roads. There is no difference in what Shah Rukh Khan and Hafiz Saeed say,” said Aditynath, not long after Vijayvargiya said that he was withdrawing the anti-Shah Rukh tweets that earned him strong criticism from his own party and others.
Controversial BJP MP Yogi Adityanath today compared Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan to Pakistani terrorist and 26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed, in the third attack by a saffron leader against the actor’s “extreme intolerance” comment, sparking condemnation.
Adityanath alleged that Shah Rukh and Saeed are speaking the same language of terror and said he did not see any difference in their language, in more embarassment to BJP after another leader Kailash Vijayvargiya painted the actor as “anti-nationalist” and said his “soul” is in Pakistan though he lives in India.
Hitting out at Shah Rukh two days after the actor added his voice to the protest by the intelligentsia against the ‘climate of intolerance’, Adityanath also suggested that he can go to Pakistan.
The BJP distanced itself from Adityanath’s comments hours after Vijayvagriya withdrew his controversial tweets but he refused to apologise. Vijayvagriya claimed his tweets yesterday were misconstrued but asserted that had there been intolerance in India, Shah Rukh would not have been the most popular actor after Amitabh Bachchan.
“The views of Yogi Adityanath does not reflect the thinking of the BJP and the NDA government,” BJP spokesperson Nalin Kohli said.
In another controversial remark, Adityanath, the MP from Gorakhpur, said Shah Rukh should keep in mind that if the “majority community” in the country would boycott his films then he would have to roam on the streets like a “common Muslim”.
The attack against Shah Rukh by the two BJP leaders came notwithstanding the refrain of BJP’s top brass in the recent weeks that partymen avoid sensitive comments.
Claiming that in the name of secularism some artists and authors of Leftist ideology have raised “anti-national voice”, Adityanath said “unfortunately” Shah Rukh has also joined their brigade.
According to Adityanath, this was not for the first time that Shah Rukh was doing this.
“There should be a debate based on issues and facts. I am saying these people are speaking the language of terror. I think there is no difference in the language of Shah Rukh Khan and Hafiz Saeed,” he said.
Asked to comment on Saeed’s invitation over Twitter to Shah Rukh and others facing “difficulty” in India because of Islam to stay in Pakistan, Adityanath said, “they are welcome to go there.”
Congress said Adityanath’s statement was condemnable and feared it would cause tension.
“This is a condemnable statement and nobody can send an individual to Pakistan,” Congress leader Tom Vadakkan said while his party colleague P C Chacko feared such comments would create tension.
“If you have views against the dispensation of this country you go to Pakistan… Anybody wants to tweet something he has to go to Pakistan.. Are they trying to promote Pakistan tourism?,” asked Vadakkan.
Senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh demanded that Prime Minister Narendra Modi personally apologise to Shah Rukh for the statements of his colleagues against the actor.
Sadhvi Prachi, a controversial Hindutva leader, had also hit out at Shah Rukh yesterday, dubbing him a “Pakistani agent” for his comment on Monday when he turned 50 that there was “extreme intolerance” in the country.
Actor Shah Rukh Khan has received support from several quarters of Bollywood after being called a ‘Pakistani agent’ and compared to 26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed by BJP leaders Kailash Vijayvargiya, Sadhvi Prachi and Yogi Adityanath.
On Monday, his 50th birthday, Shah Rukh Khan spoke out strongly on the importance of keeping India secular, telling NDTV, “Religious intolerance is the worst thing and will take India to the dark ages.” Comments like Mr Vijayvargiya’s “Shah Rukh lives in India but his heart is in Pakistan” followed. Embarrassed, senior BJP leader Venkaiah Naidu rushed to clarify that Mr Vijayvargiya, who has since retracted, spoke for himself and not the party.
SRK, who is routinely told to go to Pakistan told NDTV that it was degrading to have to keep proving his patriotism and that he wouldn’t be leaving India, has not responded to the comments made by the BJP leader. Twitter, however, has taken up cudgels on his behalf, with several tweets coming from the Happy New Year actor’s colleagues.
Notable among these are tweets from Anupam Kher, whose wife Kirron is the BJP MP from Chandigarh.
Bengali actress and director Aparna Sen suggested legal action against Sadhvi Prachi who described SRK as a ‘Pakistani agent’.
Musician Vishal Dadlani and former Roadies judge Raghu Ram attached the hashtag #IStandWithSRK to their tweets:–PTI, NDTV