This Article is From Jan 20, 2015

With BJP Faces, New Censor Board Takes on Political Overtones

Pahlaj Nihalani, the new Censor Board chairman

New Delhi: At least half the members of India's new Censor Board are either in the ruling BJP or support the party, critics point out.

"I agree one or two names are clearly associated with the party, but we have to select eminent people from different fields," said junior information and broadcasting minister Rajyavardhan Rathore, who had recently criticized the previous board members over their alleged links to the Congress.

The new 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 known to be an ideologue of 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 chairman of the Censor Board, filmmaker Pahlaj Nihalani, openly admires PM Modi and also produced a video tribute for him.

"Narendra Modi is India's hero, a global hero," Mr Nihalani said on Monday, just after being named the new chief of the Censor Board. He called himself an "inspired supporter and believer of the BJP's ideology," but insisted that his decisions as censor chief would not be politically influenced.

The new chairman and nine members were 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.

Asked to explain the BJP-heavy panel, the minister said he would "go through the list carefully" before commenting. "They all have the common agenda of development," Mr Rathore told NDTV.