BJP’s politics over Padmavati: After MP, the film banned in poll-bound Gujarat

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Gandhinagar, Nov 23: Two days after the Madhya Pradesh government decided to ban the controversial Bollywood film, Padmavati, on Wednesday the Gujarat government announced its ruling to stop the screening of the film in the state.

Both the states are ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The ban on the film, based on the life of queen Padmavati of Chittor, Rajasthan, has been announced in the two states following massive protests against its screening in several parts of the country.

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Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani's decision to ban the film smacks of political opportunism just days ahead of the Gujarat Assembly elections to appease the Rajput and Hindu groups. The Hindu and Rajput groups are mainly protesting against Padmavati.

The polls in Gujarat will take place on December 9 and 14. The counting of votes will take place on December 18, as declared by the Election Commission of India (ECI) earlier.

According to a report by The Indian Express, Gujarat CM Rupani said the film was against public sentiments and would not be screened in Gujarat until the matter got resolved.

"We can't allow our history to be distorted. We believe in freedom of speech and expression but any foul play with our great culture is not tolerated," the Gujarat CM told PTI. Rupani added the decision was taken keeping in mind the law and order situation in the state during the approaching Assembly polls.

"There are issues with the film, our sympathy is with those who are protesting against the film and that is the reason we will not allow its release in the state till those issues are resolved," Rupani said.

Although the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) is yet to review the film, the two BJP-ruled states unilaterally decided to ban the film.

However, Rupani's Haryana counterpart, CM Manohar Lal Khattar, on Wednesday said the decision to allow the screening of the period film would be taken only after the CBFC arrived at a conclusion. Again, Haryana is under the rule of BJP.

In fact, Rupani's decision is in sync with other BJP CMs like Uttar Pradesh's Yogi Adityanath and Rajasthan's Vasundhara Raje Scindia who have expressed their reservations against the film after several Rajput and Hindu groups like Shri Rajput Karni Sena in recent times have issued open threats against Sanjay Leela Bhansali, the director of the film, and Deepika Padukone, who is enacting the titular role of Padmavati in the movie.

Shri Rajput Karni Sena, a fringe group at the forefront protesting against the film, has stated clearly that it wants a complete ban on Padmavati.

After MP CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan decided to ban the film in the state on Monday, former controversial chairperson of the CBFC, Pahlaj Nihalani, said that a movie cannot be banned in a state before receiving a certification from the Censor Board, as the CBFC is popularly known as.

While declaring a ban on the film, Chouhan said that his government won't allow the release of the film in the state unless the objectionable scenes were removed. The film was earlier scheduled to release on December 1.

Recently, the makers of the film decided to postpone its release taking into consideration the constant threats and protests against Padmavati, its director, and actors.

Moreover, the CBFC has recently sent back the film to its makers citing "technical deficiencies". The board has asked the makers to resend the film for revision.

The protest against the Bhansali's film was started by Shri Rajput Karni Sena after it vandalised the sets of the film and slapped the director during the shooting of Padmavati in Jaipur in January.

Thereafter, members of Shri Rajput Karni Sena once again destroyed the sets of the film in Maharashtra. After those two incidents, protests against the film almost went silent.

As the makers of the film released the trailer of Padmavati and declared its release date, protests over the film once again started and this time it got ample support from both the Congress and the BJP.

The protesters of the film, including descendants of Rajput rulers, stated that the film hurts the sentiments of the community and the Hindus in general by distorting historical facts.

However, historians are yet to confirm whether queen Padmini actually existed or not and the film has been inspired by a 16th-century poem. In recent times, several political leaders and goons of right-wing groups have announced death threats against Deepika and Bhansali.

Even the Maharashtra (another BJP-ruled state) and UP governments are mulling over imposing a ban on the film which has irked several Hindu groups for allegedly distorting history.

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