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Maneka Gandhi defends Husain
May 12, 2007 22:26 IST
In a stinging attack on the saffron opposition to painter M F Husain's works and to an arts exhibition in a Gujarat university, Bharatiya Janata Party MP Maneka Gandhi on Saturday said the party and Vishwa Hindu Parishad activists have gone too far in their protests.
She also opposed the arrest of two arts students of M S University in Vadodra in BJP-ruled Gujarat.
"The VHP and BJP activists attacked and damaged their paintings. This is unacceptable behaviour and I am sure, as a reasonable and open-minded person, you will realise that we offend the entire cultural world and thinking when we do this," she said in a letter to senior party leader L K Advani.
The Pilibhit MP, who praised Husain for his charity, alleged that his paintings had been misread deliberately and suggested that they were worthy of being displayed in a museum.
"Even if they have been interpreted correctly, and objected to, that is the purpose of good art: to arouse debate, to create emotion and passion, to be a means of communicating the artist's own thoughts.
"Otherwise, all art would be a mediocre representation of the real world and would have no value except as a photograph imitative record of the world," Gandhi wrote.
She regretted that Husain was living in a self-imposed exile in Dubai and London apparently for fears he could be attacked because of his paintings.
"He should be here in India and we should have a museum of his works on public display, instead of considering which ones to ban and destroy," Gandhi said as she requested Advani to advise the party in Gujarat and Maharashtra to call off their campaign against Husain.
The BJP rejected her plea, describing as unacceptable Husain's depiction of Hindu gods and goddesses in the nude.
"We do not subscribe to her views on Husain. As far as the party is concerned, it believes nobody has any right to give a vulgar depiction of our deities. Such acts are unacceptable," Vijay Kumar Malhotra, the BJP's deputy leader in the Lok Sabha, said.
Malhotra refused comment when asked whether the party would take action against its Pilibhit MP for her public defiance.