Naseeruddin Shah, Anurag Kashyap and 600 theatre artistes urge people not to vote for BJP

Vote to empower the weakest, protect liberty, protect the environment, they said

Panchayat polls in West Bengal begins, violence reported Representational Image | PTI

After 100 filmmakers from across the country issued a joint appeal, urging the public to not vote for the BJP in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, over 600 theatre artistes requested people not to vote for the saffron party in the polls.

In a joint statement issued by the theatre artistes, including the likes of Naseeruddin Shah, Abhishek Majumdar, Anamika Haksar, Amol Palekar, Anurag Kashyap, Konkona Sen Sharma, Ratna Pathak Shah, Anamika Haksar and Sanjna Kapoor appealed to citizens to "vote bigotry, hatred, and apathy out of power. Vote against the BJP and its allies. Vote to empower the weakest, protect liberty, protect the environment, and foster scientific thinking. Vote for secular democratic, inclusive India. Vote for the freedom to dream. Vote wisely".

"Today, that very idea of India is under threat. Today, song, dance, laughter is under threat. Today, our beloved Constitution is under threat. The institutions that have to nurture argument, debate and dissent have been suffocated. To question, to call out lies, to speak the truth, is branded ‘anti-national’. The seeds of hatred have entered our food, prayers and festivals," the statement read and pointed out that the upcoming general elections are " the most critical in the history of independent India".

"The BJP, which came to power five years ago with the promise of development, has given free rein to Hindutva goons to indulge in the politics of hate and violence. The man who was portrayed as the saviour of the nation five years ago has destroyed the livelihoods of millions through his policies. He promised to bring back black money; instead, rogues have looted the country and run away. The wealth of the rich has grown astronomically, while the poor have become even poorer," the statement read.

Further, they sought the help of people to "safeguard the Constitution and our syncretic, secular ethos". "We appeal to our fellow citizens to vote for love and compassion, for equality and social justice, and to defeat the forces of darkness and barbarism," the statement read.

Earlier, the filmmakers had urged the people to "do everything in your capacity to keep this harmful regime from coming back to power. Let your mandate be to choose a government that respects the Constitution of India, protects our freedom of speech and expression, and refrains from all kinds of censorship.”

A group of scientists too had issued a public appeal to citizens to reject divisive politics a week after the filmmakers asked the people not to reelect the BJP. “An atmosphere in which scientists, activists and rationalists are hounded, harassed, intimidated, censored, jailed, or worse, murdered, is not the future our country deserves... We must put an end to the denigration of rational, evidence-based public discourse; only then, can we create better resources and opportunities for jobs, education and research,” the statement from the scientists read.