5 crore demand: Government slams MNS diktat

Maha CM says he had opposed the deal while Parrikar and Venkaiah frown at Raj’s audacity to seek such funds

New Delhi/Mumbai: The Rs 5 crore demand by MNS from the makers of ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’ for Army welfare fund to ensure its smooth release continued to generate heat on Tuesday with two Central Ministers disapproving of the deal and Maharashtra Chief

Minister Devendra Fadnavis maintaining he was opposed to it.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said the government does not appreciate catching anyone’s neck to contribute, making it clear that donation to the Army was “voluntary” while Information and Broadcasting Minister M Venkaiah Naidu dubbed the MNS demand as “wrong”.

Fadnavis, who is facing heat over “brokering” the deal between the film makers including Karan Johar and MNS chief Raj Thackeray, maintained that he had opposed the offer of the Rs 5 crore contribution to the Army welfare fund.

Fadnavis, however, defended his intervention to resolve the issue, saying democratic governments at times would even talk to separatists and left ultras for the sake of peace.

Johar’s film faced pro-tests by workers of Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) for casting Pakistani actor Fawad Khan.

The film’s smooth release, later this week, was ensur-ed at a meeting of Film

Producers’ Guild, producers and Thackeray, mediated by Fadnavis last week.

A key demand conceded at the meeting was Rs 5 crore contribution from makers for army welfare, which sparked strong reactions from opposition parties and some army veterans.

“The concept is voluntary donation and not catching neck of someone. We don’t appreciate it,” Parrikar told reporters in Delhi on the sidelines of the naval commanders conference.

The Defence Minister said the concept behind the newly created Battle Casualty Fund was to ensure that all those people who wanted to donate voluntarily for welfare of the family of martyrs could do so.  “There will be a scheme managed by MoD with assistance from Adjutant General Branch concerned. It is a voluntary donation and therefore we are not concerned with anyone demanding something to be donated to that,” he added.

Naidu while terming the demand as “wrong” said the government has nothing to do with it. “That was a wrong proposal. We don’t agree with their (MNS) proposal. The Maharashtra Chief Minister has also clarified that he was not a part of the proposal that was made by some other party…,” Naidu told reporters in Delhi.

Stressing that the matter was between “some party” and the “producer”, he said the government does not “subscribe to that thinking at all and has no to role play”.

” 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 at his residence ‘Varsha’. 

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