The war of words over “growing intolerance” on Wednesday saw Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan being dragged into its unsavory midst as two BJP MPs attacked him over his remarks, with one even comparing him to terror mastermind Hafiz Saeed. The actor, however, got sound support from the Shiv Sena, fellow actor Anupam Kher and the Congress party.
A day after senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Kailash Vijayvargiya said that Shah Rukh Khan&’s “heart is in Pakistan”, which he retracted on Wednesday, BJP MP Yogi Adityanath said the actor and Saeed “speak the same language”.
Adityanath, who has several times earlier made controversial comments, said: "Shah Rukh Khan must remember that if the majority of this nation rejects his films then he will end up wandering the streets like any common Muslim. Anti-national people like Khan are raising their voices and we condemn it.”
To terror mastermind Hafiz Saeed’s invite to Shah Rukh Khan to come and live in Pakistan, Adityanath said he hoped the actor will consider it.
"I welcome the invitation. All such people should go to Pakistan where they will be shown their true position in the scheme of things. Hafiz Saeed and Shah Rukh Khan speak the same language," Adityanath added.
Another BJP MP, Manoj Tiwari, condemned the superstar&’s statements on the growing intolerance in the country.
"He (Shah Rukh Khan) has issued a statement when the Bihar elections are going on. He has always been close to the Congress party and his closeness has been seen before as well. I consider his statement as a political comment.
"If there was any kind of intolerance in the country, he wouldn’t have been one of the top superstars in India. He should keep this fact in his mind that whatever statement he makes, it makes a big impact."
Tiwari also said if the Bollywood actor wants to make such political remarks then he should join politics.
Meanwhile, Shah Rukh Khan on Monday said there was "nothing worse than religious intolerance and that it would take India to the Dark Ages".
Tiwari, MP from Timarpur, termed the rising voices over intolerance as “a revolt against Narendra Modi”. He also slammed the artistes and writers who have returned their awards, saying "their awards have had some connections with the UPA government and the Congress in the past”.
Shah Rukh Khan, however, received support from the Shiv Sena, which is a part of the ruling alliance in Maharashtra with the BJP.
Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut said the superstar should not be targeted only because he is a Muslim and that the minority community in India is "tolerant".
"This country is tolerant and the Muslims are tolerant as well. Shah Rukh Khan should not be targeted only because he is a Muslim," Raut said.
Anupam Kher, 60, took to Twitter and strongly commented on the BJP leaders who spoke against Shah Rukh.
"Some members of the BJP really need to control their tongue & stop talking rubbish about @iamsrk. He is a national icon & We r PROUD of him," he tweeted.
On Tuesday BJP leader Kailash Vijayvargiya had triggered a controversy when he tweeted that Shah Rukh’s "soul" is in Pakistan though he lives in India.
Union minister M Venkaiah Naidu said on Wednesday that the government was open to having a debate on the issue of intolerance and added that he disapproved the unsavory remarks against Shah Rukh Khan and Karnataka Chief Minister Siddaramaiah. A BJP leader had threatened to behead Siddaramaiah if he dared to eat beef.
"Nobody should speak such nonsense. The statement made by one of the local functionaries in Karnataka is totally condemnable if he has made such remarks as per the media report. The party also does not approve of the comments made by a functionary against Shah Rukh Khan," Naidu said in New Delhi.
The opposition Congress labeled Prime Minister Modi a "tacit endorser" of intolerance and alleged that the BJP was diverting attention from the main issues of agrarian crisis and economy by making “outrageous statements”.
“PM is a tacit endorser of this environment of intolerance which is incited by his colleagues,” Sharma told reporters here.
Speaking in support of Shah Rukh, Sharma said, “Shah Rukh is an icon of cosmopolitan India, he has the right to speak his mind as a citizen of India. The BJP cannot question anyone.”