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Kher to take legal action against sacking
Film actor Anupam Kher, who was sacked as head of the Central Board of Film Certification, has decided to seek legal redress and serve a notice for defamation on a top Left leader.
Kher, replaced unceremoniously by veteran actress Sharmila Tagore Wednesday, has demanded an explanation for his removal and lashed out at criticism of his alleged links with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its Hindu nationalist mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
"I am seriously looking into the issue and contemplating legal action," Kher told reporters Thursday.
"I take strong objection (to being labelled an RSS man). An artiste cannot be tied down like a dog to any ideological group." He demanded that the government give him proof that he had any political or ideological affiliation.
On his replacement by Sharmila Tagore, Kher commented: "It is the height of high-handedness."
Kher's lawyer Majid Memon said he was sending notice to Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) leader Harkishen Singh Surjeet for accusing him of participating in the process of saffronisation (saffron is the colour associated with Hindu nationalists).
Kher was appointed by the former BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government last year.
Kher would also write to Information and Broadcasting Minister S. Jaipal Reddy, asserting that the manner of his dismissal was improper.
The actor said he would not take the government's action lying down. "I do not need this job - I am doing very well as an actor. But there comes a time in life when you need to stand up and object to injustice.
"It does not help to take on the government, but I am sticking my neck out so that it does not happen in future. We are told that the Congress is a 100-year-old party, the party of Jawaharlal Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi - what is happening to it?"
Kher accused the Congress-led government of removing people of credibility from the government for "60 seats" (those held by Left parties, which prop the coalition government from outside).
Kher's counsel pointed out that if there was a difference of opinion, then there is always a workable solution to it - "you cannot humiliate a person like this and sack him for political reasons".
He added that in public institutions, especially in a respected body like the censor board, transparency and accountability was very important.
To the CPI-M veteran's reported remarks against Kher, his lawyer quoted him as being "very upset".
The government asked Kher to resign and within hours announced that Tagore had taken over as chairperson of the censor board.
Tagore took charge immediately, even before Kher had put in his papers.
"She has been appointed in an honorary capacity for a period of three years from the date of assumption of charge or until further orders whichever is earlier," said a spokesman of the information and broadcasting ministry.
His tenure was cut short reportedly in the wake of pressure from the CPI-M, the dominant partner of the Congress-led alliance, to remove all heads of departments who had any links with the BJP and RSS.
A defiant Kher said he had not received any communication from the information and broadcasting ministry about the reasons for his removal.
Kher had come in the firing line purportedly for sitting on a documentary on the 2002 Gujarat communal violence that the state's BJP regime has been widely accused of abetting.