Model code biggest hurdle in development: Goa CM

Manish TewariManish Tewari with Kamal Haasan at IFFI on Wednesday. PTi
The 44th International Film Festival of India that kicked off in Goa on Wednesday is billed as the celebration of world cinema and India's soft power but politics made its presence felt in election season. On the inaugural day, Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, in context with a permanent venue for the fest brought up the election model code of conduct and said it was the biggest deterrent to development.

"I promise you next year the festival will be held at a permanent venue. I am making this promise despite the fact that there is an election in between, in 2014, which would mean imposition of the model code of conduct. Code of conduct is the biggest obstacle to development," Parrikar said.

The matter of IFFI being hosted in a makeshift venue and the fact that the I&B Ministry renews the MoU with the Goa government annually, has caused some heartburn in the state. I&B minister Manish Tewari, in his speech, dwelt at length on why the government and not the film industry organises the festival.

In what many construed as a veiled response to more and more Bollywood filmstars supporting BJP's PM aspirant Narendra Modi, Tewari said the film festival was a means to reinforce plurality of India, its diversity, freedom of speech and expression. "Perhaps these thoughts were also in the heart and mind of India's first prime minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, one of the foremost thought-leaders of his generation as he ignited the torch of the film festival movement... What we reject with vehemence is any assault on these libertarian values that seek to constrain our liberal spaces, constrict free thinking and circumscribe non-conformism," he said.

Many Bollywood stars have either supported Modi as PM candidate or praised his "achievements" in Gujarat and among them are Lata Mangeshkar, Sanjay Leela Bansali and Anupam Kher.

At the IFFI, Waheeda Rehman received the first Centenary Film Award and Czech filmmaker Jiri Menzel the Lifetime Achievement Award. Menzel's 'Don Juans' was the opening film of the ten-day festival.

Tewari slams BJP for repeating khooni panja

I&B Minister Manish Tewari on Wednesday told BJP leaders to remember 2002 Gujarat riots before using sobriquet like "khooni panja". Replying to a question about former Rajasthan chief minister Vasundhara Raje Scindia using the phrase even as BJP's prime ministerial aspirant Narendra Modi faces Election Commission's ire over it, Tewari said: "I would advise my friends in the BJP to keep in mind the actions of Chief Minister (Modi) during the Gujarat pogrom of 2002 before indulging in words like khooni panja (murderous hands)." "As for Vasundhara Raje Scindia, she herself has questions to answer for indiscretions committed during her tenure," he added. Responding to a question about IFFI being about 'Brand Goa', he repeated his Hitler innuendo, talking about similarities between "a certain gentleman a few decades ago who wanted to use the Berlin Olympics as a branding exercise" and the statement of another gentleman (Modi) about how 100 years of Indian cinema was a lost opportunity for building Brand India. ENS

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