Shiv Sena leader Bal Thackeray praised his cadres for their “astoundingly successful” agitation against Shah Rukh Khan’s film on Friday.

In a statement here, Mr. Thackeray congratulated Shiv Sainiks and listed the reasons for the party’s agitation.

“We were not opposed to the film My Name Is Khan. We only opposed Shah Rukh Khan because he made these pro-Pakistan statements and insulted Hindustan because of which our Shiv Sainiks were outraged. We also did not say that he should apologise to us. But instead we felt he should apologise to the nation.”

He said this agitation was against Shah Rukh’s love for Pakistan. “Why did he make these pro-Pakistan statements and why should the Maharashtra government put its life on the line for this Pakistan-loving Khan,” the Sena chief asked.

Criticises Congress

The Sena supremo criticised the Congress and Chief Minister Ashok Chavan. “Succumbing to vote-bank politics, Ashok Chavan deployed tight security with AK 47s. To ensure that Khan’s film release was smooth, he arrested thousands of Shiv Sainiks and beat them up till they bled and put them in jail. In the end there was no place remaining in jail. For one Khan, how weak and helpless the Chief Minister has become. The Chief Minister has been vanquished.”

“Though the Congress bought tickets, the cinema houses were not full, but the Sainiks certainly made the jails houseful. This is called pride and sacrifice, which today only my brave Sainiks have. The Chief Minister and some of his Cabinet colleagues, under the protection of AK-47 toting commandoes, saw the movie. This is their heroics,” he said.

‘Action will continue’

Mr. Chavan said: “Troublemakers have been arrested and action will continue if the Sena pursues its agitation. We will not compromise on security. Today’s victory is a victory of Mumbaikars.”

Pawar’s pat for Mumbaikars

PTI reports from New Delhi:

Union Minister Sharad Pawar, whose recent meeting with Sena supremo Bal Thackeray left the Congress fuming, hailed Mumbaikars for defying Sena protests against the film. “There is an autonomous institution which decides which film [is] to be screened and in such a situation no one should create his own authority for it,” the NCP supremo said reacting to the rebuff to the Sena agitation against the film.