The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was contemplating legal action against one of its senior members who publicly offered a reward for anyone who beheaded Bollywood star Deepika Padukone playing the titular role in the film Padmavati, triggering massive outrage, disgust and anger. The party's Rajasthan chief said BJP "won't tolerate any violent remarks from our party members".
The party has also asked Suraj Pal Amu, who offered 10 crore on the weekend to behead both Padukone, and the movie's director, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, to apologise publicly.
The movie was due to open on Dec. 1 but its producers postponed the release. Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, both ruled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's BJP, banned it outright, reported Reuters.
"We will not tolerate any violent remarks from our party members, but we also want the director to respect India's history," said Anil Jain, the head of the BJP's state unit in Haryana, to which Amu belongs. He said the party was considering legal action.
However, the party leader's words ring hollow especially after one of its members from Bihar threatened to maim anyone who "raises a finger" against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Bihar BJP president and Lok Sabha MP from Ujiyarpur, Nityanand Rai, was addressing a crowd at a function organised by OBC communities when he said: "Unki or uthne waali ungali ko, uthne waale haath ko...hum sub milke...ya to tod dein, zaroorat pari to kaat dein. (We will either break the hand or chop off the finger that is raised against Modi.)"
This language of violence has become the norm since the stir against Padmavati gained momentum. Most of the posturing is for TV cameras covering the protests.
Members of the Akhil Bhartiya Kshatriya Mahasabha (ABKM) announced a Rs 1 crore reward for anyone who burns Padukone alive.
"Deepika should know how it feels like to be burnt alive. The actress will never know the sacrifice of the queen. Any person burning her alive will be given Rs 1 crore. We demand that office- bearers of the organisation be shown the movie before it is released," ABKM's youth wing leader Bhuvneshwar Singh said.
Hardline Hindu groups have threatened to burn Padukone alive for starring in a film they claim distorts history because it allegedly shows Delhi Sultnate ruler Alauddin Khilji as Rani Padmavati' "lover". Incidentally, the film has not even been released. Bhansali has repeatedly held that his film contains nothing objectionable.
Keshav Prasad Maurya, deputy chief minister of Uttar Pradesh said he would not permit the movie's release unless scenes showing the queen in a "poor light" were deleted.
"How can a Muslim aggressor be portrayed as the real hero and the Hindu king and queen as victims? This is factually incorrect," said Maurya.
The head of the Central Board of Film Certification, Anurag Srivastava, said Padmavati's producers had applied on Nov. 10 to release the film, but the application was denied because producers did not clarify whether the film was based on fact or fiction.
(With inputs from Reuters)