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Jaya Bachchan lambastes smear campaign against the film industry; Kangana Ranaut hits back

The veteran actress raised in the Rajya Sabha the issue of the relentless attack being carried out on the film industry, including by some of its members.

Our Correspondent

Ravi Kishan, one-time star of Bhojpuri cinema and now Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) member of Parliament from Gorakhpur, criticized the film industry yesterday in the Lok Sabha, accusing it of being in the thrall of the drug menace for which he also blamed Pakistan and China.

Veteran actress and Samajwadi Party MP Jaya Bachchan responded to his comments today in the Rajya Sabha after giving a zero-hour notice. MPs can raise important issues in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha during zero hour.

Bachchan called upon the government to support the entertainment industry which, she said, has become a target of vile abuse and unfounded allegations.

“I think the government must stand by the entertainment industry because it always comes forward to help the government in whatever good work the government takes up," Bachchan said. "If there is a national calamity, they come forward and contribute money and services.

“I think it is very important that the government support this industry and not kill it," she continued. "Just because there are a few people [who do wrong], you cannot tarnish the image of the entire industry. This industry brings international name and recognition also to India.”

Bachchan said the targeting of the entertainment industry is part of the tactics of the ruling party to divert attention from pressing issues.

“The entertainment industry in our country provides direct employment every day to five lakh people and indirect employment to five million people," she pointed out. "At a time when the financial situation is in a depressing state and employment is at the worst level, to divert the attention of the people, we are being flogged by the social media and the government’s non-support.”

Responding to Ravi Kishan’s claim made in the House of the People, she said, “I completely disagree [with Ravi Kishan]. I was really embarrassed and ashamed that yesterday one of our members in the Lok Sabha, who is from the industry, I won’t take his name, spoke against it. It’s a shame. Jis thaali mein khaate hain usi mein chhed karte hain [It is akin to biting the hand that feeds you].”

Following Bachchan's strong statement, actress-filmmaker Kangana Ranaut, who has been involved in a running feud with the alleged movie mafia in commercial Hindi cinema ever since actor Sushant Singh Rajput was found dead at his flat in Mumbai in June, hit back on Twitter.

“Jayaji, would you say the same thing if in my place it was your daughter Shweta [who was] beaten, drugged and molested as a teenager?" Ranaut wrote. "Would you say the same thing if Abhishek complained about bullying and harassment constantly and [was] found hanging one day? Show compassion for us also.”