Aamir under fire for remarks on intolerance
New Delhi: Superstar Aamir Khan today came under attack from BJP and some in the film industry for his remarks on intolerance in the country as the saffron party linked his statement to a "deep political conspiracy" of Congress to malign the country.
But he was defended in equal measure by Congress and some other political parties and film celebrities who said the government should not brand its critics as unpatriotic and threaten them for "speaking truth".
An ambassador of 'Incredible India', a government's campaign to promote tourism, Khan was at the centre of a raging debate a day after he expressed "alarm and despondency" over the rise in incidents of intolerance in the last six to eight months.
BJP fielded its national spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain at a press conference in Mumbai to unleash a counter attack on Khan. "Where will Aamir and his family go other than India? There is no other better country like India and no better neighbour than a Hindu for an Indian Muslim. What is the situation in Muslim countries and Europe. There is intolerance everywhere," he said.
Shielding him from the attack, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi said the government should instead of branding all those who question it and the Prime Minister as "unpatriotic, anti national or motivated" reach out to people to understand what's disturbing them.
"That's the way to solve problems in India- not by bullying, threatening & abusing!" Gandhi said, a view that was shared by CPM leader Sitaram Yechury.
"Now an actor has spoken fearlessly - will the BJP admit it was a manufactured charge, that Bihar polls were why people were speaking up?
"Aamir Khan spoke about difficult issues with ministers present in audience. He should be heard and not threatened for speaking truth to power," CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said in a series of tweets.
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal "admired" Khan for "speaking up" against growing intolerance and insecurity in the country, and asked the Centre to take steps to instill sense of security among people.
"Every word that Aamir Khan said is so true. I admire him for speaking up," Kejriwal tweeted.
Hussain also took a swipe at the Congress Vice President for coming out in support of Aamir Khan. He said there was a "deep political conspiracy" by the Congress to defame the country by harping on an atmosphere of intolerance in India.
Congress leader and actor Khushboo batted for Khan, saying you don't have to be in power to speak for people of this country. She also defended the artistes who have returned their awards. "Those who have returned awards don't work for any particular party but for the nation."
Khan's colleagues in the film industry vented their ire on the 50-year-old celebrated actor with one of them asking him why he did not talk of leaving the country during "worse times" earlier.
There were taunts at him that it was India that made him what he is today and why was he turning against it now but Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi defended him. Gandhi asked the government to reach out to people instead of branding its critics as "unpatriotic, anti-national or motivated". PTI