Mumbai: Actor-turned-politician Urmila Matondkar believes calling the Shiv Sena an outfit that has historically had an anti-migrant, anti-Muslim agenda is a “restrictive” way of looking at the party, and what is important is the governance that it is delivering in Maharashtra today.
Matondkar, who joined the Shiv Sena in December last year after a short stint in the Congress in 2019, said she decided to join the party as she was impressed by the performance of the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi government in the state over the past one year despite challenges such as Covid-19.
Chief Minister Thackeray personally called her, offering her a nomination to the state legislative council, she said in an interview to ThePrint.
Matondkar spoke about her reasons for leaving the Congress, joining the Shiv Sena, as well as the party’s spat with actor Kangana Ranaut.
She said saying the Shiv Sena has baggage of being anti-migrant, anti-Muslim and a nativist party is “a very restrictive way of looking at any particular party”.
“Any and every particular party in the history of its evolution cannot just be given cookies and brownies for their goods and have not necessarily only indulged in rights or wrongs or whatever. What is important for me today, or what is important for any party for that matter, is how they treat the people of the state or the country…”
“And in that sense if you look at the way Shiv Sena has performed I would assume and presume that any and everybody, irrespective of their political affiliation, would definitely give them high marks,” said Matondkar, who had unsuccessfully contested the 2019 Lok Sabha election as a Congress candidate.
The actor, who is married to a Muslim, added, “In dealing with this pandemic, there have been no insiders or outsiders. There has been no this community versus that community. In fact, during the time of the whole Tablighi situation that had come up in Delhi, our CM had taken a very strong stand for the Muslims. He very specifically and categorically mentioned that there will not be any bifurcation… any word that would raise any communal anti-Muslim kind of an agenda.”
“So, I think people talk a lot of things when they are fighting elections, but after they come into power, how they behave is what I think they should be judged for…,” she said, adding it’s still early days for her in the Shiv Sena and it will not be fair for her to comment on the entire party’s ideology.
Also read: Why Urmila Matondkar’s stint in politics was shorter than expected
‘Kangana Ranaut should conduct herself more responsibly’
Matondkar, who has often sparred on Twitter with Ranaut especially during the latter’s tussle with the Shiv Sena over equating Mumbai to ‘Pakistan-occupied Kashmir,’ said Ranaut needs to conduct herself with more responsibility.
“She (Ranaut) has been given the Padma Shri by the same government she is completely standing by and supportive of. With that comes a lot of responsibility in the way you talk, the way you conduct yourself and not speak about any CM for your small, tiny agendas,” Matondkar said.
Matondkar, who has worked in films such as Masoom, Rangeela, Satya and Bhoot, said Ranaut has openly accepted working for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
“She herself has claimed it while answering one of my tweets that ‘BJP ko khush karne ke chakkar mein maine apne aap pe cases laga liye hain’ (To make BJP happy, I have got embroiled in cases). When a person speaks like that do you make anything else out of that?”
Dear @UrmilaMatondkar ji maine jo khud ki mehnat se ghar banaye woh bhi Congress tod rahi hai, sach mein BJP ko khush karke mere haath sirf 25-30 cases he lage hain, kash main bhi aapki tarah samajhdar hoti toh Congress ko khush karti, kitni bevakoof hoon main, nahin? pic.twitter.com/AScsUSLTAA
— Kangana Ranaut (@KanganaTeam) January 3, 2021
She added, “The only point I would like to make here is that when you have a political agenda don’t try to show yourself as doing something for social good.”
The Shiv Sena’s spat with Ranaut began after her claim that she “feared the Mumbai Police more than the movie mafia”, following which the party said she shouldn’t live in the Maharashtra capital if that were the case.
Ranaut then drew a parallel between Mumbai and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, which triggered a more vehement response from the Shiv Sena.
The Sena-controlled Mumbai civic body eventually served a demolition notice to Ranaut’s office bungalow in Bandra for alleged illegal construction and took action within 24 hours.
Matondkar said that while Ranaut was served several notices in the past as well, “the one thing that I was not completely in line with the whole thing was that she (Ranaut) should have been probably present there.”
Also read: From Sonu Sood & Swara Bhasker to Urmila — Bollywood responds to Kangana with Mumbai pride
‘CM personally called’
The Shiv Sena has already nominated Matondkar to the state legislative council, with the MVA government having recommended her name along with 11 others to Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari in November last year. Although the government had requested Koshyari to revert in 15 days, the governor is yet to respond.
Matondkar told ThePrint that CM Thackeray personally called her and offered her the MLC nomination, saying that the “cultural and social background of Maharashtra is extremely strong, but unfortunately it doesn’t necessarily reflect in the Vidhan Parishad (legislative council)”.
The actor said the Congress too had offered her the MLC nomination, but she did not take it up as it would not have looked good after having left the party.
Explaining the reasons for her leaving the Congress after a six-month stint, Matondkar said, “I just feel that the way things were going on at that time as far as I was concerned, they were not suiting my sensibilities as to how I wanted to work and go ahead and progress in life, and let me just leave it at that now.”
The actor joined Congress before the Lok Sabha election, contested from the Mumbai North constituency and resigned in September citing “petty in-house politics”.
Also read: Difficult for actors to speak up as it invites anti-national tag: Urmila Matondkar