Even as the Congress leaders maintain that the party is not against the release of the movie per say, angry party workers disrupted the screening of the film at various places of Maharashtra – Pune, Nashik, Jalgaon, Nanded, Thane and Kalyan.
In Thane, the protesting Congress workers stalled the matinee show of Indu Sarkar at INOX Cinema in Korum Mall. The Congress workers, led by Thane district unit president Manoj Shinde, barged into the INOX Cinema when film was about to begin. They tore the posters of Indu Sarka’ and raised slogans against the movie and the director Madhur Bhandarkar. They also shouted slogans against the BJP governments in Maharashtra and at the Centre.
“We will not tolerate any slander against Indira Gandhi. We will not allow a single show of the film in the state or country,” said Shinde.
The protesting Congress workers also warned of dire consequences if the theatre management continues the screening of the movie. The theatre then decided to cancel the show.
In Jalgaon, around 50 Congress workers, led by Jalgaon district president Sandeep Patil, staged a protest at Natwar Multiplex and Khandesh Central theatre. They shouted slogans against the movie, hurled abuses at director Madhur Bhandarkar and the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Pertinent to mention that two weeks ago, Leader of Opposition in Maharashtra Assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil – in a letter – had warned the state government about the possible protests if the film is screened.
Similar protests were held at Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh by Congress workers. Reports suggest that the movie could not be screened in a number of cinema halls in Jabalpur in lieu of the protests.
Earlier, director Madhur Bhandarkar was forced to cancel the pre-release Press conference of Indu Sarkar in Pune and Nagpur because of the violent protests by Congress workers.
The Supreme Court had yesterday refused the stay on the release of Indu Sarkar saying that the movie is an “artistic expression within the parameters of law.”
It could be noted that Salman Anees Soz, national spokesperson of Congress, in a recent article in Hindustan Times had tried to distance the party from such protests. He wrote:
“Freedom of expression is about the free flow of ideas, debates and inquiry that leads to inventions, discovery and progress. I believe there is much scope for progressively removing restrictions on free expression.”
Taking a similar line, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor had tweeted:
— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) July 21, 2017
Senior Congress leader and former Union Minister P Chidambaram recently said that the party has nothing against the film as it does not believe in endorsing “parallel censorship.”
But these hollow talks of freedom of expression by these elite Congress leaders appear to have no effect on their fellow Congress leaders and workers. Now, some Congress leaders have started arguing that the protests are “spontaneous” in nature. This underlines the Congress’s double speak.
Or do these protests have indirect support of the Congress high command? After all it is only the Gandhis whose views are respected in the party, not of leaders like Tharoor.