Mumbai, Jan 16: The family of poet Kavi Pradeep – best known for the haunting “Aae Mere Watan Ke Logon” – has demanded “an unconditional, written apology” from a Madhya Pradesh BJP minister for “insulting” their father, and indirectly Mahatma Gandhi.
The late Pradeep’s daughters – Mitul Pradeep and Sargam Thaker – asked Environment Minister Kailash Vijayvargiya to apologize for reportedly saying that the nationally revered poet “deserves to be slapped, boxed and kicked” for praising Mahatma Gandhi.
At a public meeting in December in Indore, Vijayvargiya, a Bharatiya Janata Party leader, took umbrage at the nationalist song, “De Di Hame Azadi Bina Khadag Bina Dhal, Sabarmati Ke Sant Tune Kar Diya Kamaal” – a glowing tribute to Mahatma Gandhi penned by Pradeep for the 1954 movie “Jagriti”.
Vijayvargiya demanded that the lyricist be “slapped, boxed and kicked” for underestimating the contributions of freedom fighters who adopted a path other than the non-violence propounded by Mahatma Gandhi.
Stunned, Pradeep’s daughter Mitul shot off protest letters to Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan, BJP president Rajnath Singh and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi seeking an apology.
“After nearly a month, yesterday (Wednesday) I received a reply from Vijayvargiya which is unrepenting and indicates his violent thoughts. He has expressed regrets for his remarks made in public, but not the remarks per se, claiming he has a right to his opinion on various issues.
“It means nothing,” an enraged Mitul Pradeep told IANS here Thursday.
In the reply on his ministerial letterhead, while acknowledging Pradeep’s greatness, Vijayvargiya said that expressing a different opinion about the nationalist poet “does not amount to insulting him in any manner”.
“We may not agree with the teachings of great poets like Tulsidas, Surdas, Kabir or Meerabai but we would not dream of insulting them,” the BJP minister said.
“Similarly, I would never dream of insulting Kavi Pradeep.”
“I respect Pradeep and am prepared to apologise on any forum… But I should be given an opportunity to present my viewpoint,” said Vijayvargiya who is known for his controversial and sexist remarks.
He urged Mitul not to end “personal relations” over the issue, further enraging the Pradeep clan living in Mumbai.
“What personal relations is he talking about? I have never met him in my life. He has no business insulting an idol like Kavi Pradeep. It is shocking that the BJP is keeping mum on the issue,” said Mitul, a painter-cum-artist.
She pointed out that her father was born Ramchandra Narayan Dwivedi in Badnagar, near Ujjain. Vijayvargiya is from Ujjan.
Mitul said Pradeep was conferred the Dadasaheb Phalke Award by the BJP-led government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
“If you don’t agree with someone’s viewpoint, that is fine – but you can’t instigate people to slap, box and kick the other person, especially since he is not around to defend himself,” said Sargam Thaker, Mitul’s elder sister.
The duo is adamant on getting an unconditional, written public apology from Vijayvargiya as Feb 6 heralds the start of the birth centenary celebrations of Pradeep.
Besides “Aae Mere Watan Ke Logon” and “De Di Hame Azadi”, Pradeep fired the nation’s patriotic fervor with songs like “Door Hato Ae Duniyawalon”, “Chal Chal Re Naujawan”, “Aao Bachchon Tumhe Dikhayen”, “Har Har Mahadev, Allah O Akbar”, “Dekh Tere Sansar Ki Haalat Kya Ho Gayi Bhagwan, Kitna Badal Gaya Insaan” and many more.
Delhi Chief Minsiter Arvind Kejriwal recited one of Pradeep’s patriotic numbers – “Insaan Ka Insaan Se Ho Bhaichara, Yehi Paigham Hamara (from the movie “Paigham”) after his swearing-in Dec 28.
(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)