The Narendra Modi-led BJP Government sent invitations to certain Bollywood celebrities for an outreach programme to clear the air regarding the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
The discussion-cum-dinner took place yesterday evening, January 5, 2020, in Grand Hyatt, Santacruz, Mumbai. It was hosted by Union Minister of Railways, and Commerce and Industry, Piyush Goyal and BJP Vice President Baijayant Jay Panda.
The invitation to the closed-door discussion read: “The agenda of the meeting will be to facilitate a discussion on myths and realities pertaining to the Citizenship Amendment Act.
Actor and former VJ Ranvir Shorey, who was present at the meet, told The Indian Express, “We were mostly clearing the air around CAA. The fact how it’s not about taking the citizenship away but granting it to refugees from neighboring Islamic countries. The government feels there is a lot of misinterpretation regarding the CAA, because of which there are protests still going on.”
He further added, “CAA is something which I already support and stand behind. But it was pointed out to me that there could be some problems with CAA and NRC as a combination. That it could be troublesome for some Indians, especially minorities. I did bring that up and was given assurances. I was also told the Home Minister and Prime Minister themselves have given assurances that the NRC or any exercise will legally be conducted in a way where no Indian citizen will be affected.”
The A-listers who were present at the meet were Kailash Kher, Urvashi Rautela, Anu Malik, Ranvir Shorey, Bhushan Kumar, Kunal Kohli, Abhishek Kapoor, and Shann. Prasoon Joshi, Ritesh Sidhwani, Anil Sharma, Vipul Shah were also present, among others.
Gujarati television producers and directors Jamnadas Majethia, Dilip Joshi and Shailesh Lodha also attended the meeting.
However, a source who was present at the dinner told The Wire, “There was not much open criticism of the government’s decision. The questions were somewhat tame, asking for clarifications rather than pointedly criticising. Nobody wanted to rock any boat.”
Bollywood celebrities who came out in protest against the contentious Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) like Swara Bhaskar, Farhan Akhtar, Anurag Kashyap, Jim Sarbh and others were absent from the event.
However, numerous people took to different social media platforms to voice their disappointment with this meeting.
https://t.co/T9NyGEd0fj @aktalkies does it again! Breaks a story on how the govt. is trying to piggyback on #Bollywood to legitimise the unethical unconstitutional inhuman bureaucratic disaster that is CAA-NRC-NPR! Bollywood pls do NOT become pawns in this agenda!
— Swara Bhasker (@ReallySwara) January 4, 2020
So the Modi govt has organised a 'CAA dinner' with top Bollywood stars to 'discuss' the Act tomorrow. The invitation, which we reviewed, says meeting will have an 'inclusive' approach. Funnily those critical of the CAA have been left out of the guest list https://t.co/GYJKZZj55B
— Ankur Pathak (@aktalkies) January 4, 2020
Amazing that the government, which raced the CAA through Parliament , and has made it clear it will not rethink, still needs to a missed call blitz , dinner with bollywood celebrities, door to door campaigns… Why the worry? https://t.co/bAgvcEQjeS
— Suhasini Haidar (@suhasinih) January 5, 2020
A Govt is all set to fall when in desperation it tries to muster support through missed call
— Jaiveer Shergill (@JaiveerShergill) January 5, 2020
Modi has organized a conversation tomorrow in Mumbai with Bollywood celebrities to gain their support for the citizenship bill. It’s “followed by a scrumptious dinner.”
Do these people have any conscience? History will remember you supported a tyrant.https://t.co/amG8wICuTe
— Arjun Sethi (@arjunsethi81) January 4, 2020
Outside the venue, some people staged a protest against CAA and NRC, using placards and flowers and asking the police officers to pass them on to the celebrities.
Some of the placards read, “Bollywood we are watching. #MumbaiAgainstCAA”, “Stop this show, we are not stupid audience”, “Don’t disappoint your fans”.