Dispatches

Javed Akhtar endorses Mamata’s call for change of government at the Centre

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who is on a visit to Delhi, with Javed Akhtar and Shabana Azmi on July 29. | Photo Credit: -
Suhrid Sankar Chattopadhyay 29 July 2021 21:28 IST
Updated: 30 July 2021 19:20 IST

Celebrated poet and lyricist Javed Akhtar has endorsed West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s call for a change of government at the Centre.

Celebrated poet and lyricist Javed Akhtar has endorsed West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s call for a change of government at the Centre. After meeting Mamata, who is currently in New Delhi, on July 29, Javed Akhtar, with his wife actress Shabana Azmi and Mamata Banerjee by his side, told the media, “I cannot speak for everyone, but I personally feel that there is a need for a change…. Tension has increased in the country; I am seeing there is polarisation and aggressive statements being made. These things should not be taking place. Just recently riots happened in Delhi. If riots take place in Delhi itself, then what is left? These things should be stopped.”

Asked whether he felt Mamata can lead the country, Javed Akhtar said his conversation with her showed no indication that leading the country was Mamata Banerjee’s priority. “She believes there should be parivartan (change) the way she wanted in Bengal (in 2011 when she defeated the Communist Party of India (Marxist)-led Left Front). Now she wants it in India. Who is going to be the Prime Minister is a secondary issue. The important question is what kind of India do you want? What kind of culture, atmosphere, freedom and democracy do we want in Hindustan? We are proud of our democracy and we want it to get even stronger. Democracy is not static. It is dynamic,” said Javed Akhtar. Talking about Mamata’s slogan for the Assembly election, “Khela Hobe” (the game will be played), being applied now in the national context, Akhtar said, “Do you still need proof [about the success of the slogan]?” Mamata Banerjee jokingly interjected, “Javed ji will make a song from it.”

Mamata, who went to Delhi after a gap of two years, has been holding talks with leaders of parties opposed to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government at the Centre, including Sonia Gandhi and other top Congress leaders. Prior to leaving for Delhi, she had exhorted opposition parties to set aside their differences and their “self-interest” and come together to defeat the BJP in the 2024 Lok Sabha election. “Though there is still a lot of time left, we cannot leave things till the very end,” said Banerjee, insisting upon the necessity to form a “front” against the BJP. Her meeting with Javed Akhtar and Shabana Azmi indicates that she also intends to garner the support of the cultural and entertainment worlds as well, just as she had done in West Bengal when fighting against the 34-year-old Left Front government.

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