Justifying his intervention in defusing the stand-off over Ae Dil Hai Mushkil, Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis on Saturday said the issue could be resolved because the producers guild and the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena were on the same lines, expressing solidarity with the Indian Army.
"I do not think that what (MNS chief) Raj Thackeray was demanding and what the producers guild voluntarily offered was something different. The producers guild had already said that they had wholehearted support for the our army men and wanted to do something for them," Fadnavis said at a programme organised by a news channel.
Fadnavis had come under attack from the Congress and the Nationalist Congres Party for 'brokering' a truce between the producers and the MNS, with the opposition parties saying the state government's role is to
ensure rule of law and it was for the Centre to decide whether Paktisatni artists should be banned or not.
Expressing "shock" over the development, the Congress said Fadnavis had not only bowed down to the "high handed tactics" of the MNS, but made the state to bow before that party.
"The chief minister's responsibility is maintaining law and order. It was unconstitutional for him to mediate between the film producers and the MNS, which had threatened to block release of the film," state Congress spokesman Sachin Sawant said in a statement.
"Banning artistes from across the border is a decision to be taken by the Centre. The demand for ban on Pakistani artistes should be made to the Centre," he said.
He said protecting the country's interest was part of the foreign policy, which falls under the ambit of the Centre. The state government's responsibility is to ensure law and order, till a decision to ban Pakistani artistes is taken by the Centre.
"When Ashok Chavan was the CM, Shiv Sena had created similar problems against the release of Shah Rukh Khan's 'My Name is Khan'.
"The Congress government at the time provided police protection to the movie and ensured there was no law and order problem. Congress showed it does not bow down to any pressure. Fadnavis showed that he was incapable of handling the pressure," Sawant added.
The NCP alleged that the "settlement" brokered by Fadnavis between MNS chief Raj Thackeray and film producers was a proof that BJP was "providing fuel to the MNS engine".
NCP spokesman Nawab Malik said the Chief Minister's job is not to broker settlement, but to ensure law and order.
"By making producers agree to contribute Rs 5 cr to the army welfare fund, Thackeray and Fadnavis have insulted the memory of martyred jawans," he said.
Hitting out at Thackeray, he said the MNS chief was known for never taking issues raised by him to their logical conclusion.
"It is now clear that BJP is providing fuel to MNS engine (the party's election symbol)," Malik said, adding in the Lok Sabha polls, MNS' strategy was to ensure BJP's victory and defeat Shiv Sena, he added.
Under pressure from political and other outfits, Bollywood film producers have announced that they will not engage with Pakistani artistes, clearing decks for the smooth release of Karan Johar's 'Ae Dil Hai Mushkil' as the MNS withdrew its threat to stall the screening.
Johar, accompanied by Producers' Guild President Mukesh Bhatt, met the Maharashtra Chief Minister at his home 'Varsha' on Saturday morning where Thackeray, whose party MNS has been opposing the release, was also present.
Asked why he gave so much importance to call and meet an outfit which forced producers to pay "hafta", Fadnavis said, "These two stakeholders needed a mediation and that's what I did and came out with an amicable solution."
Fadnavis said it was alright if a solution was found through a dialogue otherwise state machinery would have dealt it with iron hand against those who took law in their hands, like in previous cases, it has done.
"There is something called law and order, through which we have dealt it with accordingly," he said.
Earlier in the day, former Mumbai Police commissioner and BJP MP Satyapal Singh said the chief minister should not have called a political party to find the solution to such a problem.
"I think the CM could have dealt with this without inviting him (Raj Thackeray). He (Fadnavis) should have dealt this situation firmly," said Singh.
In a bid to downplay Singh's remark, Fadnavis said, "Satyapal ji has been police commissioner of Mumbai and as a police officer, this was his way to sort out the issues. While being a neta, it was my way to find an amicable solution."
"The Producers Guild said that when Pakistani actors were cast in the movie, situation was different and the government was trying to improve relations with Pakistan," Fadnavis said.
"However, given the current situation they have decided to pass a resolution to not promote or give work to any Pakistani artist in future," he added.
"They (Producers Guild) said that they'll give tribute to martyrs in the beginning of the movie, and they want to contribute to army welfare fund," said the chief minister.