BJP MP Yogi Adityanath on Wednesday compared Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan with Pakistani terrorist Hafiz Saeed after the actor said there was growing intolerance in India.
The hardline BJP leader said in Gorakhpur that both Shah Rukh Khan and Saeed — the mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai terror attack — speak the same language.
“There is no difference in the language Shah Rukh Khan and Saeed speak,” said Adityanath, who heads the Gorakhpur mutt in eastern Uttar Pradesh and is known for his radical views on issues related to Hinduism.
Adityanath said if Hindus stopped seeing Shah Rukh Khan’s movies, “he will be on the streets like an ordinary Muslim”.
The MP’s comment came a day after a BJP leader, Kailash Vijayvargiya, called Shah Rukh — as the actor is widely known and who turned 50 on Monday — a “deshdrohi” (traitor).
Vijayvargiya said on Wednesday that his comment had been “misconstrued”.
Another Hindutva proponent, Sadhvi Prachi, dubbed the actor a “Pakistani agent”.
Shah Rukh Khan had said earlier that there “is intolerance (in India), there is extreme intolerance … there is growing intolerance”.
Adityanath said “so-called writers and artistes” had taken an anti-India stand by returning their national awards over alleged growing intolerance, and that Shah Rukh Khan had now added his voice to this group.
He said while he was all for a free debate on issues, no one had a right to hurt India’s international image.
Those who did deserved to be boycotted, the saffron-robed MP said.
When he was told that Hafiz Saeed had invited Indians to come to Pakistan if they found intolerance in India difficult to cope with, Adityanath said: “They can go (to Pakistan). We also want them to go.”
Adityanath has been representing Gorakhpur in the Lok Sabha for the BJP since 1998. Also head of the Hindu Yuva Vahini group, he has sparked many controversies with his hardline comments.
In June this year, he declared that those who oppose yoga can leave India.
Adityanath’s comments drew criticism from both the Shiv Sena and veteran Bollywood actor Anupam Kher.
Shiv Sena spokesman Sanjay Raut said: “Shah Rukh must not be targeted for being a Muslim. He has the same rights as we do.”
Kher, a known BJP supporter, tweeted: “Some members of the BJP really need to control their tongue and stop talking rubbish about Shah Rukh. He is a national icon and we are proud of him.”
But BJP MP and popular Bhojpuri singer-actor Manoj Tiwari said Shah Rukh Khan had always been close to the Congress and had made his statement amid the ongoing Bihar assembly elections.