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CPI-M rules out apology, says Kher's anger unfounded


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Anupam KherThe Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) Friday ruled out any apology to film actor Anupam Kher, who was sacked as censor board chief, and asserted it never called him an "RSS man", a euphemism for being a Hindu radical.

CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury said the actor had not been referred to as a man of the Hindu nationalist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in an article in the party mouthpiece "People's Democracy" written by veteran CPI-M leader Harkishen Singh Surjeet

"(Anupam Kher) has not been referred to as an RSS man but as an appointee of the earlier government," said Yechury, who is the editor of the mouthpiece.

Justifying Kher's removal, Yechury gave the instance of veteran actor Vijay Anand who had also been removed as the chairperson of the Central Board of Film Certification, or censor board, before his term ended, before Kher.

Kher, 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, said he would proceed with a lawsuit if Surjeet did not apologise within 48 hours.

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."

In an article in People's Democracy, Surjeet had stressed the need to de-saffronise (saffron is the colour associated with Hindu nationalists) key posts and listed Kher among "RSS men".

The CPI-M shrugged off the threat of legal action.

"He can do whatever he wants - why should we apologise?" CPI-M politburo member Prakash Karat said, speaking for Surjeet who is currently in the US. Surjeet's family said it had not received any notice so far.

Kher, appointed last year by the previous Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government, has held Surjeet responsible for his removal.

Veteran actress Sharmila Tagore has replaced him.

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.


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