The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Thursday, 27 December, drew flak from the Congress party and users on social media after it, in a surprising development, heaped praise upon the movie The Accidental Prime Minister on its official Twitter and Facebook handles.
The party said that the film – which is based on Manmohan Singh’s tenure as prime minister between 2004 and 2014 – tells a “riveting tale of how a family held the country to ransom for 10 long years.”
“Was Dr Singh just a regent who was holding on to the PM’s chair till the time heir was ready?” the post added, referring to Congress President Rahul Gandhi as the “heir”.
Riveting tale of how a family held the country to ransom for 10 long years. Was Dr Singh just a regent who was holding on to the PM’s chair till the time heir was ready? Watch the official trailer of #TheAccidentalPrimeMinister, based on an insider’s account, releasing on 11 Jan! pic.twitter.com/ToliKa8xaH
— BJP (@BJP4India) December 27, 2018
The film is based on a book written by Sanjaya Baru, who served as former prime minister Singh’s media adviser from 2004 to 2008.
Responding to the BJP’s tweet, Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala slammed the saffron party for spreading ‘fake propaganda’.
Such fake propaganda by BJP won’t desist @INCIndia from questioning the Modi Govt on –
— Randeep Singh Surjewala (@rssurjewala) December 27, 2018
Media advisor to former prime minister Manmohan Singh, Pankaj Pachauri, told CNN that the current prime minister’s office has said already that this movie is a fictional account written for financial benefit.
“It’s a fictional book turned into a fictional movie, so naturally the Congress is upset with it,” Pachauri told CNN.
Pointing out that he has worked with the former prime minister for two years and can vouch for his decision-making responsibilities, Pachauri told CNN, “His work is there for people to see. Whatever decisions were taken at 7RCR, were taken by Manmohan Singh. There was no other source of power. I can verify that. I worked with him for two and a half years. Before the 2014 election they wanted to make money out of a book. Now they want to bleed it, and milk it more. So, let them.”
Talking about the reports of demand to ban the movie by a Congress MP, which has been refuted by the party, Pachauri said, “Banning any movie is bad for freedom of expression. You should not be banning movies. Instead they should do other movies to counter this movie. He’s (Manmohan Singh) reacted by not reacting. He’s that kind of person.”
Congress MP PL Punia, meanwhile, told ANI: “This is a BJP game, they know five years are about to complete and they have nothing to show to the people… so, they are using these tactics to divert attention.”Defending the BJP’s tweet, I&B Minister Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore told ANI: “Can’t we extend our wishes for a film? Congress has been all for freedom, why is it questioning that freedom now?”
Union minister Hardeep SIngh Puri also said that there was nothing wrong in the depiction of the film.
“When I was an ambassador in Geneva during the tenure of Singh, I know how calls weren’t being taken by the PMO. So, there is nothing wrong in that depiction,” he said, as per ANI.
Anupam Kher, who plays Singh in the film, told ANI: “More they protest, more publicity they will give to the film. The book has been out since 2014, no protests were held since then, so the film is based on that.”
“Can’t change facts if making a movie on Jallianwala Bagh or Holocaust,” he added.
‘Can Stop Its Screening’: Youth Congress
The president of the Maharashtra State Youth Congress wrote a letter to the producers of the film, asking them to organise a “special screening” of the movie before its release, and cautioning them that any scenes that they deem as “unfactual” (sic) after the screening should be deleted. The letter, signed by Satyajeet Tambe Patil,
“If the said movie is released without prior screening for our office bearers and without making necessary changes recommended by us that we find out after viewing the movie then it will be understood that you are doing this deliberately and we have other options open to stop the screening of the same across India for which you and your team would be completely held responsible [sic].”
The letter, addressed to the producers Sunil Bohra and Dhaval Gada, also criticised the trailer of the movie that was released on Thursday, 27 December, saying that it indicates “that facts have been played with and presented in incorrect manner” with regard to ex-PM Singh, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and the Congress party.
Former Jammu and Kashmir CM Omar Abdullah, however, disagreed with the Youth Congress’ stand, saying “we can’t talk about intolerance and then threaten to stop all screenings.”
As much as the Congress, it’s branches/off-shoots & other well wishers of Dr Manmohan Singh may find the movie disagreeable, we can’t talk about intolerance & then threaten to stop all screenings. Dr Singh’s record & legacy won’t be the product of one single movie or book. https://t.co/zb9GZxMwgL
— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) December 28, 2018
Can’t wait for when they make The Insensitive Prime Minister. So much worse than being the accidental one.
— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) December 28, 2018