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Proof of patriotism not prerequisite to making statements: Shah Rukh on intolerance and Aamir Khan

Shah Rukh Khan weighed in on the debate surrounding rising incidents of intolerance in India and fellow actor Aamir Khan’s recent statement on the issue. Speaking to CNN-IBN, Shah Rukh said, “You don’t have to prove your patriotism in any other way, except for thinking good for the country and doing good. You have to work for the benefit of the country. If I work for the country in the most kindest way in what I am good at, my country is going to benefit from that. But if I am corrupt, and regional about it, I will be harming my country.”

This was Shah Rukh’s first reaction to Aamir’s statement where he had said that he was “alarmed” by a number of incidents and his wife Kiran Rao even suggested that they should probably leave the country.

AFP image.AFP image.

AFP image.

At a time when social media reach is baffling and almost unaccountable for, users chip in with quick and easy judgment. Shah Rukh echoed the concern and said that nothing less can be expected from such a medium. “Twitter and social media is about free voice, people do take very radical steps, they get abusive. Even a generic statement can be turned into radical statements by people,” he said.

Shah Rukh added that social media should not be taken very seriously and a few things need to be ignored.

“I have never been disappointed. It is not a medium to have a deep conversation,” said Shah Rukh with a smile, “Since people take a very radical stand sometimes and start jumping the gun and at the end when you dont know what to say, you resort to teri **ki, etc.”

Adding that just because an actor has been in the industry for 25 years, he does not have to speak on all issues, the actor said, “You realise even a generic, logical thing can be turned around into a radical statement. I think I should only speak on matters to do with my work.”

Speaking at the Ramnath Goenka Awards event last week, Aamir had said, “When I chat with Kiran at home, she says ‘Should we move out of India?’ That’s a disastrous and big statement for Kiran to make. She fears for her child. She fears about what the atmosphere around us will be. She feels scared to open the newspapers every day. That does indicate that there is this sense of growing disquiet, there is growing despondency apart from alarm. You feel why this is happening, you feel low. That sense does exist in me.”

However, after two days, the actor clarified that neither he nor his wife Kiran, have any intention of leaving the country as he is proud to be an Indian, and stand by everything that he said in the interview.

With inputs from agencies

Uday Prakash, poet who touched off award-wapsi tsunami, slammed for praising PM Modi’s speech

“The speech given by our Prime Minister Narendra Modi today in Parliament on Constitution has importance of a historical inscription, an important stately document. I have not heard in my life such a democratic, inclusive, liberal and polite speech in my life, at least in such an effective manner. He spoke without any bias, so transparently accepted contributions of public leaders who preceded him and the way he praised nation’s first Prime Minister’s democratic tolerance, honesty and argumentative maturity. Besides the way he gave his acceptance and support to the original preamble as also to later amendment, which included secular, socialist and talked about need for reservations, he transcended boundaries of ruling and opposition benches, will go a long way in establishing him as a unanimously accepted statesman with all its emotive connotations.”

Image courtesy: Facebook pageImage courtesy: Facebook page

Uday Prakash. Image courtesy: Facebook page

These words are not from a Modi bhakt. This is the opening paragraph of a Facebook post by Uday Prakash, noted poet and writer who had recently hit the headlines for being the first to return his Sahitya Akademi award on 3 September, a move which sparked off the raging “intolerance” debate in the country.

Uday Prakash had returned his award three days after the killing of famous Vachna Sahitya scholar MM Kalburgi. What subsequently followed was award-wapsi charade with a political overtone – read a movement against the Modi government for rising intolerance during his 16-month regime at the Centre.

But see the irony of being Uday Prakash! If he was criticised and called names then (when he publicly returned his award) by Right wingers and hailed by liberals and Left wingers, today he is accused of being “sold out to Modi” and attacked by those who till the other day considered him a hero. The author, however, is keeping his cool and not getting carried away by either category of responses.

Has Uday Prakash changed sides by hailing Modi’s statesmanship? Not really. He says he writes and speaks what he thinks is correct and is not guided by any bias or motivated thoughts and opinions. Speaking to Firstpost, Prakash said he was not a political person.

“I am a writer and express through words what I feel. When I had returned Sahitya Academy award, I had not discussed about it with anyone. I was agitated because there was no reaction from the Sahitya Academy on Kalburgi’s killing. The least which the Sahitya Academy could do, something which is practiced in armed forces, that the chief and the institution give dignity and honour to the departed. They go and console the bereaved family and stand by them in their difficult moments.

“Sahitya Academy did nothing to console Kalburgi’s family or something that could posthumously honour him. But when I gave vent to my feelings I was criticised and targeted by sections of people. I had no idea that the whole thing would turn into a political debate.

“I am being targeted again when I expressed my feeling by writing on Facebook on Modi’s November 27 speech in Parliament. Art and literature should not be analysed from perspective of religion or politics. I genuinely felt Modi that day delivered a great speech. We live in an age, which is speech-centric and speeches define course of events”, he said.

The day Modi had delivered his speech Firstpost had noted that his speech was statesmanlike and had responded to the three accusations made by his political rivals and critics.

Uday Prakash says in his Facebook post he had said it before and would repeat it again that Modi has gone several steps ahead of maestro Atal Bihari Vajpayee in oratory. Despite some factual and funny mistakes on facts relating to history, time and place, he is by far the best orator prime minister that the country has seen. In one stroke he distanced himself from the partisan speeches given by Rajnath Singh and Arun Jaitley. His speech is to respect the diversity and multiplicity of faiths and values that represent India.

Like several other political analysts and commentators, he too has his concern about longevity of spirit of the message which Modi tried to deliver – is it guided by compulsions of parliamentary number imbalance of GST or by the receding graph of BJP’s image due to irresponsible statements made by his party and Sangh Parivar leaders?

Modi surely has succeeded sending a message that he can stand tall as a statesman, leader of the country. It’s also time for him to show through his deeds that he means what he says. His government, party and ideological Parivar will have to internalise the messages that he gave while commemorating 125th birth anniversary BR Ambedkar.

There is thus a need to dispassionately see Uday Prakash’s passionate writing on the issue.

Watch full video: Firstpost Salon with Tarek Fatah

The Canadian writer, broadcaster, and liberal activist, Tarek Fatah was at his sharpest as a guest on Thursday evening at Firstpost Salon, educating and entertaining the audience with his erudition shorn of all political correctness.

India should realise her potential, play global peacemaker and stop going after Aamir Khan, advised Fatah, who identifies himself as an Indian born in Pakistan; a Punjabi born in Islam; an immigrant in Canada with a Muslim consciousness.

‘One man can’t have all the answers’: Rahul Gandhi takes jibe at Modi in Bengaluru

Bengaluru: On the eve of the winter session of Parliament, Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday said Congress “strongly” believed in GST, but government should reach out to the opposition on certain issues, including the cap on rate.

The Congress vice president outlined the party’s stand on the contentious Goods and Service Tax(GST) Bill even as he made an all-round attack on the Modi government calling it “much worse” than “suit-boot-ki-sarkar.” The NDA government is keen to push key reforms legislations like the stalled GST bill in the winter session.

Rahul Gandhi‘s interaction was the first in the series of Gandhi’s outreach to the students across the campuses in the country.

File photo. Image courtesy: PTIFile photo. Image courtesy: PTI

File photo. Image courtesy: PTI

Fielding questions on a wide range of issues during an interaction with students of a women’s college here, Gandhi also spoke on “rising intolerance”, saying it “disturbs” him as an Indian, highlighting that “live and let live” was the country’s biggest strength.

Targeting Narendra Modi, Gandhi said the prime minister believes the country could be run from the PMO and that he alone could transform the country. He further said there were very few people with decision making powers at the Centre and “one man decides evey single decision.”

“One man can’t have all the answers…,” he said, adding dialogue was very important.

Asked about GST, which is hanging fire for the last several years, Gandhi said, “we strongly believe in GST.”

He said GST and other bills were “very important” but the government’s approach has to be one of reaching out to the Opposition.

Speaking to reporters later, Gandhi said the Congress would raise in Parliament the issues of “rising intolerance”, which was “very disturbing”, GST and also Prime Minister’s “silence” on various issues.

Questioned why the GST bill was being stalled, he said it was Congress which brought it forward and “…we are for GST…we support GST…” But, he noted, the BJP had opposed it and blocked it for three years with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, then in the Opposition, even justifying blocking Parliament as a strategy.

Gandhi said there were three differences between BJP and Congress on GST. They related to cap on tax to be charged, dispute resolution and one per cent tax on inter-state sales (doing away with it).

He said government had to accept the fact that Congress “sits in Parliament”, “Congress has a view” and “Congress has 20 per cent hope” (referring to the people’s mandate).

Attacking the Modi government for not having “conversation” with the Opposition, he said the Prime Minister had not even once picked up phone and spoken to any Congress leader, which his predecessor Manmohan Singh used to do.


Indrani told me Sheena married diamond merchant in US, says Vidhie Mukerjea

Mumbai: Vidhie Mukerjea, daughter of Indrani and Peter Mukerjea, has told the CBI that when she tried to contact Sheena Bora after her disappearance in April 2012, she received a reply but from a new email id in Sheena’s name.

This may bolster CBI’s case that after murdering Sheena in April 2012 and disposing of her body, Indrani, her mother, used to send emails or text messages in her name.

Sheena Bora in a file photo. PTISheena Bora in a file photo. PTI

Sheena Bora in a file photo. PTI

Vidhie, whose statement was recorded by CBI after it took over the case, also says that whenever she asked Indrani about Sheena’s whereabouts, Indrani used to get angry.

Indrani told her that Sheena had married a diamond merchant in the US, according to Vidhie.

“The police informed my father (Peter) and me that Sheena Bora was murdered on 24 April, 2012 and a murder case has been registered against my mother (Indrani), driver Shyam Rai and my biological father Sanjeev Khanna. I contacted Sanjeev Khanna and asked him about the murder and his involvement in the said crime. He took it very casually and said `ha ha’ and disconnected the call,” Vidhie says in the statement.

“In 2009, Sheena started living with us in Mumbai. Then she was introduced to me as my mother’s sister. At the same time, I came to know that Sheena and Rahul (Peter’s son from earlier marriage) were having an affair. Due to this, Peter and Indrani used to quarrel a lot. My mother dislikes Rahul,” Vidhie told CBI.

“During 2009-2010, I came to know that Sheena was my mother’s daughter as communicated by Rahul to my father Peter. I enquired with my mother and she shouted saying Rahul is lying as he wants his father Peter to divorce her,” Vidhi says.