In an interview to The Hindu, information and broadcasting minister M. Venkaiah Naidu has said that the government had no hand in the boycott of Pakistani artists and actors, and that it had happened because of the mood of the Indian people. He said that people of all professions, including the film industry, needed to be mindful of that.
“Public opinion in India is strongly against Pakistan aiding and funding terror. Everyone should keep that in mind and act accordingly, whether he is an artiste, director or producer, businessman or even a politician… It is very simple to say art has no boundaries, but countries [do] have boundaries…When a war is taking place, you have someone doing a drama with that country, that is not expected,” Naidu told The Hindu.
Dragging the prime minister into this controversy is completely uncalled for, Naidu continued. “This decision to boycott hasn’t been taken by the government or even advised by the government. The people who decided [on] the boycott are also from the film industry. They should discuss among themselves, instead of dragging the government into this. They should sort out the issue among themselves. Making comments against the prime minister is uncalled for and has been done for cheap publicity.”
Naidu told The Hindu that public opinion on the issue would continue to be strong until Pakistan stopped “aiding and funding terror” in India. While suggesting he was not building a case for boycott, Naidu said that it was “simple to say art has no boundaries” and that “when a war is taking place, you have someone doing a drama with that country, that is not expected”.
The media should also act in accordance with ‘national interests’, Naidu added. “I’m not giving any guideline to the media. A journalist or a TV anchor, according to me, is basically a citizen of India; every citizen has a responsibility to the country, keep that in mind and do whatever you want to do. There is no restriction, no guidelines that have been issued. National interest should be uppermost.”
When asked about ministers who had been openly talking about the surgical strikes even after Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the issue should not be politicised, Naidu said, “First of all, who brought politics into this issue? Ministers are showing restraint; [but] if someone asks some question, the response to these questions is being blown up as chest thumping. The Prime Minister has credited the Army, [and] people of the country said the same. Where is the question of politics in this? Our opponents are unable to digest the support to the surgical strikes.”
Naidu did not mention the statements of defence minister Manohar Parrikar who has said that a ‘major share’ of the credit for the surgical strikes should go to Modi and that ‘RSS teachings’ were at the core of the decision to carry out the strikes.