The right-wing Shiv Sena party has withdrawn its threat to obstruct the screening of My Name is Khan in Mumbai, meaning the scheduled premiere on February 12 can now take place.
A statement in Shiv Sena publication Samna from party head, Balasaheb Thackeray, said, “Let Shah Rukh release the film with the blessings of the Italian woman (Sonia Gandhi) and Yuvraj (prince, Rahul Gandhi) without any protection, and let it run in any theatre anywhere in the country. Sena will not oppose it.”
However, it appears that all is not forgiven, and the controversy is not yet over, as the editorial goes on to criticize both Shahrukh and the Indian Congress:
“A Khan named Shah Rukh tells us to love Pakistan but nobody feels suffocated due to his treachery. Traitors, do whatever you want to do with the blessings of the Congress. Sena won’t stop you. Why should the heads of Shiv Sainiks bleed and they be jailed without any reason?”
The threat to stop the screening of My Name is Khan originated when the Shiv Sena objected to a statement actor Shahrukh Khan made favouring Pakistani cricketers’ inclusion in the Indian Premier League. The Shiv Sena demanded an apology for the statement – Khan refused to give one, seeing no wrong had been committed. Tension over the issue escalated into protests, such as burning posters advertising Khan’s film, and the threat to prevent the screening of My Name is Khan in Mumbai – the city that takes the largest revenue for film attendance in India.
Shiv Sena’s sudden withdrawal of the threat comes only a day after Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi visited Mumbai despite Shiv Sena’s threats: traveling on public transport, meeting the public and even using an ATM to withdraw cash for his train fare.
Shahrukh Khan, arrived safely back in Mumbai today, and on his arrival indicated that he will not back down from his stance. “I haven’t said anything wrong or dangerous to anyone. I’ve been misunderstood. Nobody told us not to buy Pakistani players,” he said. He also indicated that he would not be taking steps to meet Thackeray on his own to sort out the controversial difference of opinion, but would meet him if Thackeray issued an invitation.