MP minister Narottam Mishra 'defends Indian culture' with attacks on films, rivals

In July, he had directed authorities to file an FIR over a controversial poster of filmmaker Leena Manimekalai's documentary 'Kaali' after an outrage.
Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra. (Photo | PTI)
Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra. (Photo | PTI)

BHOPAL: When Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Narottam Mishra objected to actor Deepika Padukone's attire in a song in Hindi film "Pathaan", it came as no surprise as he has now acquired the image of a politician at the forefront of defending Indian culture and traditions against any perceived insult and making acerbic attacks on rivals.

Mishra (62), a 6-term MLA of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) from Datia district who is also the state government's spokesperson, often hits headlines for his controversial comments - whether they are related to films or leaders of other political parties.

A powerful minister in the Shivraj Singh Chouhan cabinet, Mishra's remarks last week on the colours of attires used in a song ('Besharam Rang') featuring Padukone and superstar Shah Rukh Khan triggered a wave of protests and led to calls for a ban on the upcoming Bollywood film "Pathaan" for allegedly hurting religious sentiments of a community.

He had said the "green" and "saffron" colours of the attires of the actor (Khan) and the actress (Padukone) need to be "rectified" along with the lyrics of the song and also the title of the film, which will hit the screens next month.

Though Madhya Pradesh recently bagged the award for being the 'Most Film Friendly State" for the second time in the last five years, the BJP leader, always seen with red tilak on his forehead, leaves no opportunity to take on film stars and producers whenever he feels some scenes in their movies are against the tenets of Hindu culture.

However, the Opposition Congress has alleged Mishra has failed to properly handle his ministries (besides home, he also looks after jail, parliamentary affairs, law departments) and often makes controversial statements to remain in the limelight.

But the BJP defended the minister's statements on the ground he is holding important portfolios and all his comments are in accordance with party line.

Before finding "faults" in the song 'Besharm Rang' and calling for their rectification, Mishra in October had warned the makers of another Bollywood film, "Adipurush", based on the epic Ramayana, of legal action if scenes showing Hindu religious figures in a "wrong" way were not removed.

In July, he had directed authorities to file an FIR (First Information Report) over a controversial poster of filmmaker Leena Manimekalai's documentary 'Kaali' after an outrage.

Mishra, however, on Sunday asserted Madhya Pradesh will remain the most film-friendly state in the country.

"No protest will be allowed at any film set. All are welcome here. Madhya Pradesh was, is and will remain the most film-friendly state," he said.

The home minister made these comments when asked by reporters about a protest by right-wing outfits at Bhedaghat, the site of marble rocks, and the picturesque Dhuadhar waterfall in Jabalpur after news spread that another Shah Rukh Khan-starrer film, 'Dunki', was being shot there.

Not just films, non-BJP politicians, too, are often in firing line of the saffron leader.

Mishra had termed the Rahul Gandhi-led "Bharat Jodo Yatra" as the "Congress Chodo Yatra (Quit Congress Yatra)" while taking a jibe at defections from the country's oldest political party after the launch of the foot march at Kanniyakumari in Tamil Nadu on September 7.

Earlier, he had compared the Congress MP from Wayanad in Kerala with former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan.

On Sunday, the BJP leader drew a parallel between Gandhi and Pakistan's foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto, whose recent controversial remarks against Prime Minister Narendra Modi resulted in strong criticism from the Indian government and also triggered protests in several parts of the country.

"The statement of Bilawalji and Rahul Gandhi is similar. One of them is questioning the Army (over border issue with China), while the other is raising questions on the Prime Minister (Modi) of the country. Therefore, I would like to ask Kamal Nathji (Madhya Pradesh Congress president) whether he agrees or disagrees with the words used by Gandhi," Mishra said.

Gandhi faced flak for his remark that Chinese soldiers are beating up Indian Army personnel in Arunachal Pradesh.

The BJP leader had also criticized Gandhi on the issue of Bollywood actor Swara Bhasker and Congress leader and former JNU student Kanhaiya Kumar participating in the 'Bharat Jodo Yatra' and termed them as members of the 'tukde-tukde' gang (elements seeking India's dismemberment).

"Participation of persons with an anti-national mindset like Swara Bhasker and Kanhaiya Kumar in the Bharat Jodo Yatra has proved this yatra is being taken in support of those who want to break up the country," the MP minister had said.

Madhya Pradesh Congress media department chairman KK Mishra said, "He (Narottam Mishra) keeps giving controversial statements to remain in the limelight as he has been unsuccessful as the state home minister."

However, the BJP has come out in strong defence of its minister.

State BJP spokesman Pankaj Tiwari said, 'Mishra is a very senior leader of the party and handles important portfolios, including home, law and legislative affairs. He regularly interacts with the media on issues of law and order, social, political and harmony in society. All his statements are in accordance with party line."

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