The Shiv Sena was on collision course Tuesday, taking on Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi and Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan. The actor, who was in New York, said he would "stand up" for his
comment on the exclusion of Pakistani cricketers from the Indian Premier League (IPL).
The Shiv Sena said if Shah Rukh failed to apologise for his statement, his next big release "My Name Is Khan" could be banned in Mumbai.
"Shah Rukh Khan must withdraw his comments if he wants his new film to be released in Mumbai, " senior party leader Manohar Joshi, a former speaker of the Lok Sabha, told mediapersons in Mumbai this afternoon.
He also warned that all Shah Rukh's films could face a ban in the city if he failed to tender an apology. Shah Rukh, who owns the Kolkata Knight Riders team of IPL, had spoken against the exclusion of Pakistani
cricketers from the forthcoming tournament.
The Shiv Sena also fired a salvo at Congress leader Rahul Gandhi Tuesday morning.
Rahul Gandhi has slammed the Shiv Sena for its controversial 'Mumbai for Marathis' slogan. The Shiv Sena was silent, he said, when National Security Guard (NSG) personnel from various parts of India fought
Pakistani terrorists during the Nov 26-29, 2008 attacks in Mumbai.
"In Mumbai, men in the NSG were from Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh and Maharashtra. At that time they (Shiv Sena) were silent and did not say that those from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh should be
taken out. India has to move forward and all have to be taken forward, " Rahul Gandhi told reporters in Patna.
"India belongs to Indians. Every part of India belongs to every Indian. I am not interested in the views of Bal Thackeray or Raj Thackeray (of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena or MNS).
Reacting to this, Sena executive president Uddhav Thackeray said it was an "insult to the memory of the martyrs" who sacrificed their lives.
"While combating terrorists, Mumbai police's officers like Hemant Karkare, Ashok Kamte, Vijay Salaskar, Tukaram Omble and other courageous Marathi men were martyred. Even NSG's Sandeep Unnikrishnan
became a martyr, and Rahul Gandhi has insulted their martyrdom, " Uddhav said in a statement in Tuesday's party mouthpiece Saamna.
Countering Rahul Gandhi's statement that Sena and MNS leaders were not seen in public for days after the Mumbai attacks, Uddhav asked whose government was in power at that time and why it took no action to
prevent the attacks.
"And where was Rahul 'mahashay' at the time of the attacks?" he demanded.
As the controversy over Shah Rukh's comments snowballed, the actor said he was "saddened" by it and that it was "highly unhealthy, undemocratic and insensitive" on the Sena's part.
"It is very unfortunate. I think it is unhealthy, undemocratic and highly insensitive. But I guess one has to get used to these things around you. I kind of feel that what I feel and say to youngsters is as an Indian and I
am proud to be that. If some situations like this arises, though I wish it didn't, I wish everything settles down...But yes, I do feel saddened by controversies like these, " he told reporters.
Shah Rukh was in New York with co-star Kajol to ring the opening bell of Nasdaq, the world's biggest stock exchange, to promote Karan Johar's forthcoming film "My Name Is Khan". The duo became the first Indian
actors to ring the bell, an honour usually reserved for CEOs of major corporations.
"My Name Is Khan", one of the most awaited films this year, is set to release Feb 12.
Asked about the ban that the Shiv Sena plans to impose on "My Name Is Khan" in Mumbai, Shah Rukh said: "The controversy is with me and my statement. It has nothing to do with Karan (Johar), Kajol or the film. I
stand up for my comments...there is no excuse for having said what I said and I am proud that I have a take like that."
Shah Rukh's stand has been endorsed by actor Aamir Khan.