Mumbai: As questions were raised about the profusion of pro-BJP members in the new Censor Board, its chief, filmmaker Pahlaj Nihalani, today unabashedly praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the ruling party.
"Narendra Modi is my action hero. I am proudly saying I am a BJP person," Mr Nihalani told NDTV. He was named chairman of the board after renowned classical dancer Leela Samson, quit last week citing "interference and coercion" by the government.
Mr Nihalani, who has produced a video tribute for PM Modi in the past, insists that his decisions will not be politically influenced.
At least half the members of the board, which is responsible for certifying films, television shows and ads for public viewing, are either in the ruling BJP or support the party, critics point out.
The board includes Telugu actress Jeevitha Rajashekar, who is the BJP's spokesperson in Telangana. In last year's national election, she released a song for Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
SV Shekhar, another member, left the AIADMK for the BJP in 2013. He is a famous Tamil playwright and actor.
Vani Tripathi Tikoo, a film actor, is the national secretary of the BJP. George Baker, a popular actor who has been seen in many Assamese and Bengali movies, joined the BJP last year.
Ramesh Patange, the editor of a Marathi Weekly, is associated with the RSS or Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the BJP's ideological mentor. He is a founder member of the Samajik Samarasata Manch, a social equality forum of the RSS.
Another member, filmmaker Ashoke Pandit has declared himself a Modi-supporter.
The new board was appointed by the government immediately after the previous members resigned en masse over controversial film "MSG - Messenger of God" starring the Dera Sachcha Sauda sect leader Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh. The film had allegedly been cleared for release despite their objections.
"I agree one or two names are clearly associated with the party, but we have to select eminent people from different fields," junior information and broadcasting minister, Rajyavardhan Rathore, told NDTV.
"They all have the common agenda of development," said Mr Rathore, who had earlier criticized the previous censor board members over their alleged links to the Congress.