Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalithaa refuted various allegations against her and the state government for its failure to ensure the release of the film Vishwaroopam, and said the prohibition of the release of the film was motivated by a desire to maintain peace in the state and not because of personal grudges.
Saying that most people did not seem to understand what was required to maintain law and order in a state, Jayalalithaa said, “As far as I am concerned as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu my first priority is the maintenance of law and order, and to ensure public peace and a tranquil atmosphere where people can continue with their daily lives.”
The chief minister said that Vishwaroopam was to be released in over 500 theatres and the state government did not have adequate police force at its disposal to ensure security at every theatre, given intelligence inputs had already warned them of violence by Muslim groups.
“There are regular duties of the police…Assuming we had permitted the release of the film in 524 theatres the available police force to provide protection is around 9000. Is this adequate? It is not,” the Chief Minister said, adding they would have needed around 56,000 personnel.
She also refuted allegations that she had business interests in television channel Jaya TV and had stalled the release of the film to ensure the channel got the satellite rights for it.
“Jaya TV is a channel that supports the AIADMK. However, I do not own the channel…I have nothing to do with Jaya TV,” she said, calling it a ‘wild reckless charge’.
We will consider legal action against those who have made these allegations, the chief minister added.
Jayalalithaa also refuted the allegation that she held any personal grudge against Kamal Haasan.
“If I really wanted a ban on the film I could have banned it straight away under the Tamil Nadu Cinema Act but we did not do that. That should prove it is not political vendetta. Mr Kamal Haasan is not my enemy in any way,” she said.
She had also been accused of taking on Haasan over his support for a ‘veshti-clad’ man for Prime Minister, which reportedly alluded to Finance Minister P Chidambaram, a known rival of Jayalalithaa.
“If he wants a ‘veshti clad’ man to become Prime Minister then that is his opinion and he is free to air it…I have been in politics long enough to know that it is not Kamal Haasan who chooses the Prime Minister of the nation,” she said.
She said that if the film had been screened and there had been violence then political opponents like DMK’s M Karunanidhi would have accused her of being insensitive.
“We prohibited the release of the film under section 144 to allow tempers to cool down,” she said.
And while many a Kamal Haasan fan was left dewy eyed after his impassioned speech yesterday about investing his life’s savings in the film, Jayalalithaa wasn’t very impressed.
“Mr Kamal Haasan is nearing 60-years-old. What he has done is to take a calculated risk. If he has taken a decision to make a film with a mega budget that is his decision,” she said, adding that films didn’t interest her anymore and she had no idea about Vishwaroopam.
She also blamed Haasan for antagonizing the leaders of the Muslim groups by postponing the screening of the film.
The chief minister said Haasan could have approached the government earlier and it would have facilitated a dialogue with Muslim groups but instead he chose to go to the high court. As a result of him going to the high court she had also cancelled a scheduled meeting with him, Jayalalithaa said.
The Chief Minister also refuted critics who blamed her for backing the protests in the state and said the protests were held across the nation in states like Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and other parts of the world as well.
Jayalalithaa said Muslim groups have told her that Kamal Haasan has decided to make some cuts to the film and they were more amenable to allowing the release of the film in that case.
“If the leaders of the Muslim organisations and Kamal Haasan can work out an amicable agreement then the state government will do everything to facilitate that,” she said.