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Kher readies to sue after CPI-M rules out apology
Film actor Anupam Kher's confrontation with the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) is set to move to the courtroom with the latter ruling out any apology to him for calling him an "RSS man", a euphemism for being a Hindu radical.
The actor, who was sacked as censor board chief purportedly due to pressure from the CPI-M, the dominant Left ally of the Congress-led ruling coalition, Friday said he would proceed with a lawsuit.
Responding to the CPI-M's refusal of an apology to him, Kher told IANS: "Is that so? That is ok. Now my lawyer will take care of it."
The CPI-M shrugged off the threat of legal action, a day after a bitter Kher asked its top leader Harkishen Singh Surjeet to publicly deny within 48 hours his remarks about the actor being linked to the Hindu nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).
"He can do whatever he wants - why should we apologise?" CPI-M politburo member Prakash Karat told IANS, speaking for Surjeet who is currently in the US. Surjeet's family said it had not received any notice so far.
Upset at being labelled an RSS man, Kher, who was appointed chairperson of the Central Board of Film Certification last year by the previous Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government, has held Surjeet responsible for his removal.
He has been replaced by veteran actress Sharmila Tagore.
CPI-M mouthpiece People's Democracy, Surjeet stressed the need to de-saffronise (saffron is the colour associated with Hindu nationalists) key posts and listed Kher among "RSS men".
Karat said: "For some time, the government had been planning to remove him. He himself said that he was aware of it. We are not concerned with it."
He pointed out that the CPI-M was a party that responded to political issues.
"As far as we are concerned, if he wants to go to court, he is free to do that."
Kher had Thursday threatened legal action against Surjeet for implying he was linked to the RSS. He also said he was seriously contemplating challenging his removal in the court.
"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."
"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?" he asked.
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).