Opposition legislator Vijai Sardesai accused the BJP-led coalition government of trying to impose an “undeclared emergency” in the state, by trying to intimidate NGOs, political opposition and now artistes from the local Konkani theatre, also called “tiatr”.
Taking on the government over a controversial undertaking form, issued by the Ravindra Bhavan, which is required to be duly filled up by organisers of Konkani theatre, Sardesai said: “You (treasury benches) all fought against the Emergency and now you are strangling freedom of expression.”
BJP member Vishnu Wagh supported Sardesai and asked the art and culture ministry to do away with the “draconian” clause in the undertaking because it was in violation of the right to freedom of expression enshrined in the constitution.
“Tiatr also has a social context. Onstage, tiatr songs and actors often comment and discuss about what’s happening around them. They criticise too and sometimes they cross the line. If they criticise, we have laws to handle it, but why should a government fear criticism?” Wagh said.
Sardesai claimed that the BJP-led coalition government was slowly trying to stifle all forms of opposition.
“You are bringing a legislation to bring NGOs to book, a case has been filed against Leader of Opposition and now you are silencing tiatrists. This is an undeclared emergency,” Sardesai said.
However, opposing the duo, treasury bench legislators Caitu D’Silva and Kiran Kandolkar alleged that a section of the tiatr industry was paid by politicians to attack their rivals.
Art and Culture Minister Dayanand Mandrekar, however, rejected the accusations and claimed there was no attempt by his ministry to rein in artistes.
“There is no notification to the effect issued by the government,” he said, adding that the form being quoted by Sardesai was prepared by the local authority at the Ravindra Bhavan.