Renowned Bharatnatyam dancer Geeta Chandran, whose name was on the list of 900 artists who urged the public to vote for the BJP in the Lok Sabha polls in a joint statement, has claimed she was put on the list without her consent, according to a report in The Times of India.
Speaking to the Times of India, Chandran said Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, chairman of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) invited senior artists for a meeting on 8 April to commemorate the Hindu New Year. While discussing various topics, the artists decided to ask the public to vote as they felt it was "one of the duties of all citizens."
She further told the newspaper, "They then mentioned endorsing the current government and its successes. Many of us present felt that the democratic principle of 'secret ballot', that is our constitutional right, would be violated if we agreed to those points, especially since most of us were not members of any political party. There was no formal signing!"
When Firstpost reached out to Chandran for comment, she responded, "I have said what I wanted to say."
Meanwhile, filmmaker Anurag Kashyap posted to Twitter screenshots of WhatsApp messages purportedly sent on 8 April by Gouraksha Dhotre, president of All India Cine Worker's Association (AICWA), inviting artists to send in their names to "answer the artists" from the film industry who urged the public to vote against Modi and his "divisive politics". Kashyap told Firstpost: "He (Dhotre) is the head of the worker's union. People who come on shoot representing a party and check cards. I guess he texted everyone on his phone without checking. He is one of those guys who sends a text every morning: either they are good mornings or propaganda messages. Loads of people like that." (sic)
Dhotre also heads the All India Media Employees Association. Speaking to Firstpost, Dhotre said, "A few days ago, some 600 people including Anurag Kashyap, Naseeruddin Shah signed a statement, but no one knew who all the others were. Later, the list was made public. So, in response to that, we sent out a message asking people from the film industry — if they support Prime Minister Narendra Modi — to send us an email from their personal IDs saying 'I will vote for Modi'. Only those who sent the email had their names included on the list." Dhotre added that the organisation handling the communications will soon update the list, which now has more than 1,400 names.
Dhotre, addressing Chandran's claims and Kashyap's remarks, added: "We haven't reached out to anyone in person or put any pressure whatsoever. We also sent Kashyap a message saying 'why does he think people should not vote in favour of Modi?' He can do his voting on his own, right? I don't know what Chandran said. But we have only included the names of people who have sent us an email. In fact, there are many people who have reached out to us asking why their names haven't featured in the list. We informed them that all the new entries will appear in the updated list soon."
Over 900 artists, including Pandit Jasraj, Shankar Mahadevan, Vivek Oberoi, Anuradha Paudwal, Koena Mitra, Payal Rohatgi, Rahul Roy, Abhijeet Bhattacharya and Alok Nath, signed the statement, which was doing the rounds of social media.
Firstpost sent a questionnaire to the ICCR seeking a statement on artists' names being added to this campaign/appeal. This article will be updated if and when the council responds.
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Updated Date: Apr 12, 2019 19:00:40 IST