MUMBAI: Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) has asked Bollywood personalities to come forward to help farmers reeling under drought-like conditions in the state and threatened to call for boycott of their films and "teach them a lesson" if its diktat is not followed.
The Raj Thackeray-led party today released a letter addressed to Bollywood personalities like artists, producers, directors, asking them to provide succour to agriculturists, especially in Marathwada which is facing severe water scarcity and from where several farmer suicides have been reported.
Those not coming forward to help farmers facing agrarian crisis will be "taught a lesson" and their films will be boycotted, said MNS, whose film wing drafted the letter, whose copies have been sent to Hindi film fraternity members.
The MNS' move evoked a sharp reaction from the ruling BJP and Shiv Sena, who said this is not the way to seek help for distressed cultivators.
Ameya Khopkar, President of Maharashtra Navnirman Chitrapat Karmachari Sena, who sent the letters, today said Bollywood should help willingly or MNS will "teach them a lesson".
"If Marathi actors like Nana Patkar, Makarand Anaspure and Bollywood stars such as Aamir Khan and Salman Khan can help society then why not others? Farmers who are now in bad situation cultivate foodgrains not only for the Marathi actors but for all. So it is their duty to repay when they need it," he said.
He also listed steps taken by the party to alleviate suffering of farmers who are struggling to make their ends meet due to crop loss and mounting financial burden.
"MNS leader Abhijeet Panse has sent foodgrains for 26 families in a village in Osmanabad. Film personalities Mahesh Manjrekar, Abhay Gadgil and myself will contribute Rs 50 lakh for drought-affected farmers," he added.
BJP, however, criticised the MNS and said people should be encouraged to voluntarily come forward and help.
"Maharashtra is always at the forefront of helping states facing natural or man-made calamities. Now the state itself is facing a water crisis and needs help, especially in
rural areas. But we do not accept the MNS' way of asking for help. People should be encouraged to help voluntarily," said Niranjan Shetty, a Mumbai BJP spokesperson.
Shiv Sena said MNS is politicising the drought issue. "Instead of sending threatening letters, the MNS should send 'welcome' letters to those who have come forward on their own," said Arvind Bhosale, a Sena spokesperson.