‘De is not parochial, admire her guts as a Marathi mulgi’

Written By kom nampultig on Kamis, 09 April 2015 | 22.23

Mumbai: Maharashtrian scholars and journalists have slammed the bid to pass a privilege motion against columnist Shobhaa De in the assembly over her tweet barbs aimed at the government's decision on mandatory screening of Marathi films in multiplexes in primetime slots.

Moving it on behalf of the Shiv Sena, its MLA said her comments were an insult to Maharashtra. "How is a comment criticizing the chief minister's decision equivalent to an insult to Maharashtra? Maharashtra is much, much, much bigger than the government," said political analyst Prakash Bal.

Aroon Tikekar, a specialist in Mumbai's history, feels De has every right to express herself and her opinions don't call for a privilege motion. "The advocate general of Maharashtra should unofficially advise the government that the matter does not make for privilege motion," he adds.

"I don't think the motion will pass, once it goes to the assembly committee that will look into it. I'm sure wiser council will prevail," says Tikekar. "There is nothing objectionable about what she has said. She has a smart way of saying things. She is absolutely right when she says we should decide what we want to see and when we want to see it," he adds.

Sociologist Nandini Sardesai lauded De for having the guts to stand by her convictions. "I admire her guts as a Marathi mulgi who is not parochial. We're both proud Maharashtrians; both of us speak in Marathi whenever we meet," she says.

"I see a lot of Marathi movies and feel they're of exceptional calibre. However, the government's new diktat is ridiculous and will result in theatres running at a loss," she adds.

"If our MLAs are so sensitive about Maharashtra, how come there was no discussion in the assembly on a young boy in Thane killed by stray dogs?" asks Bal. Maharashtra's legislators are a law unto themselves and seem to believe 'privileges' lie solely with MLAs, and not the common man. "Freedom of expression means that an MLA has the freedom to beat a police constable," he says, adding that this was part of Maharashtra's political culture.

Journalist Nikhil Wagle tweeted in support of De, saying the privilege motion against her was a joke. "She has every right to criticize govt decision to block prime slot for Marathi films," said his tweet.

As for the decision to reserve primetime slots for Marathi films in multiplexes, Bal points out that multiplexes are largely in areas such as Mumbai and Pune and not in small towns and rural areas. "Will people in the hinterland get to watch the films?" he asks.

"If the Marathi manoos does not go out and watch these films, multiplex owners will run at a loss even during primetime," adds Tikekar.

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