Zee Media Bureau
Mumbai: A comment made by Janardhan Chandurkar over stripping Lata Mangeshkar of Padma, Bharat Ratna awards has snowballed into a controversy with the Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) alliance reacting sharply to the Mumbai Congress chief`s demand.
Lata Mangeshkar, earlier this month, extended her support to Bharatiya Janata Party`s prime ministerial candidate and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi at the inauguration of Deenanath Mangeshkar Hospital in Pune. "I pray to God that what we want is fulfilled and Narendra Bhai becomes the PM. This is everyone`s wish," the singer had said, stoking a political controversy.
On Monday, Chandurkar, who is a former MLA, criticised Mangeshkar for supporting Modi’s candidature for prime ministership.
In a bid to douse the controversy, Congress MP and Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting Manish Tewari said his party believes in freedom of expression. Reacting to the Mumbai Congress chief`s remarks, Tewari said Chandurkar`s comments were unwarranted.
Speaking at a function to mark the 125th birth anniversary of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Chandurkar had said: “All awards and honours bestowed on those who are praising communal forces should be withdrawn". However, the Congress leader has clarified that he had not named anyone.
"My allegation was not against any individual, but about this tendency (to support communal forces). In our country, the awards are given...The society looks up to these people as an ideal and love these people."
"People love them irrespective of caste and community. If in such a situation, they (the awardees) decide to support communal party, the honour bestowed upon them becomes meaningless," Chandurkar said.
"If such people, who are loved by the society, want to indulge in politics, they should come out and practice politics," the Congress leader said.
Reacting to Chandurkar`s demand, senior Shiv Sena leader and MP Sanjay Raut said: “These awards are not the property of Chandurkar’s grandfather. These are awards conferred by the government in recognition of a person’s contribution to different fields. The government had given the Bharat Ratna and other prestigious awards to Lataji in recognition of her immense contribution to the world of music. One does not become a slave of the government just because it gave an award to a person. Every award-winner, including Lataji, is entitled to her opinion. It is absurd to ask her to return the awards. If Chandurkar dislikes Lataji so much, he should stop listening to her songs.”
Meanwhile, senior BJP leader Atul Shah hit out at Chandurkar, saying the statement suggests the Congress leader is immature. Lata Mangeshkar has right to express her views and it would be wrong to gag her.
BJP spokesperson Nalin S Kohli tweeted, “Modi phobia at its worst. Lata ji praises Modi ji & the Congress demands that her awards should be taken back!”
Lata was bestowed with Bharat Ratna in 2001. She received Padma Bhushan in 1969, Padma Vibhushan in 1999 and Dada Saheb Phalke Award in 1989, among other awards.