Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan on Thursday defended Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan who had been under attack from the Shiv Sena.
Speaking on the sidelines of a conference of divisional commissioners and Collectors at the Yashwantrao Chavan Academy of Development Administration here, Mr. Chavan said security would be provided to anyone who needed it.
Earlier, Shiv Sena spokesman Sanjay Raut had warned Mr. Khan of serious consequences if he did not apologise for saying that Pakistani cricketers should have been included in the Indian Premier League (IPL). The posters of Mr. Khan’s upcoming film ‘My Name is Khan’ were torn down by Sena workers in Mumbai.
“We will take action against whoever tries to take law into his own hands,” Mr. Chavan said. On AICC general secretary Rahul Gandhi, the Chief Minister said: “We will not tolerate any insult to Rahul Gandhi.” Sena chief Balasaheb Thackeray had told his party workers to welcome Mr. Gandhi with black flags during his Mumbai visit on Friday. Mr. Chavan said the Special Protection Group and the State police would provide adequate security to Mr. Gandhi.
The Chief Minister asked the Thackeray cousins to refrain from making personal attacks on Congress leaders. “The municipal elections are round the corner and so this might be their political agenda. That is okay. They are allowed to say what they want but they should not touch a low by personally attacking anyone.”
Mr. Chavan got angry when asked about media reports about his having to face the ire of some Ministers in his Cabinet for doing a flip-flop on the taxi permit issue. Maintaining that no such thing had happened in the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Mr. Chavan said: “Whoever planted the news in the media should come out and speak openly.”
Last week, Mr. Chavan said that people applying for fresh taxi permits should have knowledge of a local language, which included Hindi, Gujarati and English apart from Marathi. Initially, he had said that knowledge of Marathi was required. It was reported that, in Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting, some Ministers of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) had confronted Mr. Chavan and asked him to clarify his stand.
Revenue Minister Narayan Rane too maintained that no such thing had happened in the Cabinet meeting. “Every Minister has to swear not to leak what transpires in Cabinet meetings. If anyone is found to have leaked anything, action will be taken. But no such thing happened in the Cabinet meeting for anyone to leak anything. It’s a false or a planted story,” he told journalists here.
Coming down on Shiv Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray, Mr. Rane said: “Uddhav is saying that the Sena will not allow Mumbai to be separated from Maharashtra. But no one has proposed to do that. I dare him to become a corporator at least and then talk of an elected Lok Sabha member like Rahul Gandhi.” He also dared the Sena to try and obstruct any Congress leader.
Mr. Rane said the stands taken by the Thackeray cousins on the so-called Marathi issue had only earned a bad name for Maharashtrians and spoilt their image at the national level.