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|February 24, 1999||
Lahore Declaration will not improve ties, says Thackeray
Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray has said that the Lahore Declaration signed by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharief would not pave the way for a better relationship between the two hostile neighbours.
In an interview given in Bombay yesterday, he said that Pakistan continued to be adamant about Kashmir. ''Relations between the two countries cannot be normalised unless there is a permanent solution to the issue. Mere bus tours will not help,'' he added.
When asked about his party's opposition to the screening of the film Fire, he maintained that depiction of lesbian relationships was an attack on Hindu culture.
He said the Shiv Sena had not retracted from its earlier opposition to the screening of the film. ''I leave it to women to decide whether or not to burn down cinema halls screening the film,'' he stated.
''My objection to certain scenes has been accepted,'' he claimed saying that the names of two lead protagonists Radha and Sita have been changed and a scene depicting Ramayan has also been deleted.
He came down heavily on fashion shows encouraging nudity. He also criticised film award ceremonies being compered in English when the awards were being given to Hindi films and added that the Sena would oppose such shows.
When asked why he was against freedom of speech and expression when he too was an editor and cartoonist, he remarked, ''I am an editor and cartoonist and I should have freedom of speech and expression. If I attack Fire, I am criticised. But is not the film an attack on Hindu culture?''
He said that the Shiv Sena-Bharatiya Janata Party alliance in Maharashtra was sure of victory in the assembly elections, which were just 10 months away.
Asked about the speculation that the elections may be advanced, he said he would find out whether the Election Commission was being pressurised to hold early elections in the state.
On the sudden change of the state chief minister, he said it was an internal matter of the Sena. ''There is no place for a joker in a pack of cards, and its always a king,'' he remarked. When asked if Manohar Joshi was not a king, he refused to comment. ''Joshi is courageous and enthusiastic, but we needed to speed up the implementation of schemes and programmes of the government.''
He complained that the media had always misquoted him and lamented that it had not highlighted the achievements of the Sena-BJP government in the proper perspective.
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