Under fire over "brokering" a deal between producers of Ae Dil Hai Mushkil and MNS chief Raj Thackeray, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has maintained that he had opposed the offer of Rs 5 crore contribution from makers to the Army Welfare Fund.
Karan Johar's film faced protests by MNS workers for casting Pakistani actor Fawad Khan. The film's smooth release on October 28 was ensured at a meeting mediated by Fadnavis last week. A key demand conceded in the meeting was Rs 5 crore contribution from makers for the army welfare.
"Thackeray had put three demands, out of which there was no objections to the other two. When the issue of Rs 5 crore came up, I intervened and made it clear to the Film Producers' Guild that they need not have to agree to it. I also told them that the contribution has to be made voluntarily. However, it was producers' decision to accept it," Fadnavis said.
"I categorically told that although it is nice that the Guild has decided to stand by the families of our martyrs but it is not a compulsion. Still if they wish to do, they may contribute whatever amount they feel (is) appropriate. This figure of (Rs) 5 crore came from MNS but was not agreed in the meeting and turned down then and there only," he said.
When asked about allegations of "brokering" the deal, Fadnavis said, "Another choice was deploying thousands of police staff outside theatres (when film releases). I would then face allegations like I have spoiled Diwali holiday mood of the police staff. Issues should be solved by talking, and we are a democratic government," he said.
BJP's ally Shiv Sena has slammed the CM's intervention in the matter and had termed Fadnavis's act as "siding with Pakistani personalities."
On this, the CM said, "Did our governments not talk with separatists like Hurriyat (Conference) or negotiate with Naxal groups for peace? Then holding discussions with a political party, though this is comparatively a minor one (issue), should not be criticised so bitterly. I think, successful mediation has disappointed some people," he said.
He also refuted charges of going soft on MNS and emphasised that there was "no political motive" behind such negotiations.