Leaders from across party lines in Kerala have spoken up in support of filmmaker Adoor Gopalakrishnan and condemned a state BJP spokesperson's comments against the veteran filmmaker.
After Adoor signed an open letter with 48 others to express concern over the lynching of Dalits and religious minorities, a Kerala BJP spokesperson hit out at him, asking him to 'go to another planet' if he could not tolerate the chants of 'Jai Shri Ram'.
Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said that the comments against Adoor, who is a 'veteran filmmaker and cultural leader' is both condemnable and should be protested against.
"Let nobody think that those with dissenting ideas can be kicked out of the country. There is no way such a move will be allowed here. Adoor Gopalakrishnan is a person who has taken Kerala's fame to an international level. When an intolerant move is made against such a person, the cultural community must resist it and protest against it," the Chief Minister's statement read.
Veteran Congress leader and former Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy hit out at the comments and stated that 'BJP was blinded by power due to which they were asking our cultural leaders to leave the country."
"The BJP's audacity to ask a man like Adoor Gopalakrishnan who has brought immense pride to India, to leave the country, will not work," his statement read.
Senior congress leader and KPCC president Mulappally Ramachandran too hit criticised the BJP for the comments against Adoor.
"Along with Adoor, 49 other dignitaries have signed an open letter to the Prime Minister. These cultural leaders have spoken in the wake of continued atrocities which have increased in the second term of Modi government. Will the BJP send all of them to the moon?" Mullappally asked.
Adoor Gopalakrishnan was one among the 49 signatories who wrote to Prime Minister Modi, expressing their concerns over increased hate crimes against religious minorities and Dalits and the growing intolerance for dissent. The letter also said that the religious chant "Jai Shri Ram" has become a â€śprovocative war cry." The petitioners also asked PM Modi to put a stop to Ram being 'defiled in such a manner'.
Reacting to this, BJP spokesperson B Gopalakrishnan said that if the filmmaker could not bear to listen to 'Jai Shri Ram', he could change his name and move to a different planet.
"Jai Shri Ram will always be chanted in India as well in the neighbouring countries. One who doesn't want to hear that can get his or her name registered at Sriharikota and go to the moon or some other planet. People of India have voted to chant Jai Shri Ramâ€¦ they will keep on chanting it and will even chant it in front of Adoor's house if needed... that is a democratic right... where would it be chanted if not in India?"
In response to the BJP leader's comments, Adoor said that he would continue to object the use of 'Jai Shri Ram' as a call for violence.
â€śI wonâ€™t succumb to anyoneâ€™s threat on this subject. Using the name of Shri Ram for the call to kill is against the believers. Let the state decide if people like me should go to the moon or any other planet,â€ť he said.