Akalis, BJP distance themselves from ‘Udta Punjab’ row

Chandigarh : Punjab Deputy Chief Minister and Akali Dal president Sukhbir Singh Badal on Thursday asked the opposition to stop spreading canards about a ban on the release of “Udta Punjab” movie.

“It is absurd even to suggest a governmental intervention at this stage,” he said.

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“Neither Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal nor I, nor anyone else at political or administrative level in the government or the party has seen the film.

“So how can we take a call on whether or not the film would affect the peaceful atmosphere in the state by hurting the sentiments of Punjabis through a vulgar and humiliating presentation of the present day Punjab and Punjabis,” Badal said in a statement here.

“For us, the film in question is one of the countless such films produced for commercial reasons in the country. Whether to allow its release or not is an issue between the producers and the CBFC (Central Board of Film Certification). The government has nothing to do with it,” Badal said.

“I am not surprised that there has been a strong reaction against the insults allegedly thrown at Punjab in the film by blackening the face of every Punjabi. If true, it is most painful and disgraceful,” he said.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Akali Dal’s alliance partner, also distanced itself from any role in the CBFC’s objections to the film’s content.

“The government of Punjab and the political alliance of Akali Dal-BJP in the state have neither written any letter nor issued any statement (regarding the film). It is without any reason or logic, or due to vested interests, that our name is being dragged into this controversy,” said Vineet Joshi, assistant media adviser to the Punjab government and a BJP leader.

“Those who have become the self-styled champions of freedom of expression in the last 72 hours because their commercial film was delayed by a few hours by the CBFC should introspect as to how much did the Bollywood fight when this country’s constitutional values were challenged,” Joshi said.