Dance on I-Day rally creates controversy in Madhya Pradesh

August 18th, 2008 - 7:06 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhopal, Aug 18 (IANS) A dance to Hindi film songs by youngsters during a rally organised here by a Congress legislator on Independence Day has once again brought the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress face to face in this election year, with the ruling BJP describing it as “obscene” and the opposition party refuting the charge. Congress MLA Arif Aqueel has been organising the ‘Paigam-e-Mohabbat’ rally in the old city - considered sensitive due to the high concentration of Hindu and Muslim population - for the past 15 years. It was organised on a far larger scale this time, maybe with an eye to the assembly elections.

The rally was flagged off by state Congress president Suresh Pachauri and film star-turned-Congress leader Rajesh Khanna.

However, what gave the BJP a chance to criticize it was the dance to the tunes of remix Hindi songs - like “Kanta Laga” and “Bachna Aai Haseeno” - by a group of youngsters participating in the rally.

While the rally started with the blaring of patriotic songs, some of the enthusiastic participants played a cassette of remix Hindi film songs and the youth (both boys and girls) started dancing, which the BJP lost no time in describing as “obscene”.

BJP state spokesperson Umashankar Gupta Sunday issued a statement that “obscenity” was part of the Congress culture. “The real Congress met its demise with the death of Mahatma Gandhi and the Congress which now exists knows nothing but to manifest its love for the nation in this way only.”

This provoked the Congress leaders who recalled a rain dance the Bednis performed in April last year during a mass wedding function held under the state’s ‘Kanyadaan Yojana’ in Sagar district’s Garakota town at the instance of Minister for Cooperatives Gopal Bhargava.

The dance, which in its traditional form is called Rai, is performed by Bednis - sex workers from the Bundelkhand region of the state. People of the region normally organize the dance on all auspicious occasions.

Refuting the BJP charge that the dance during the ‘Paigam-e-Mohabbat’ rally was obscene, state Congress chief spokesperson Manak Agrawal said Monday, “It was the Bedni dance performed last year in the presence of Cooperative Minister Gopal Bhargava that was really obscene.”

“There was nothing obscene in the dancing at Aqueel’s rally, and if it is proved otherwise, I will give up public life,” said Agrawal.

Aqueel asked, “Was their dress obscene or their gestures? It was just that the songs played for a while during the rally were not patriotic songs. Nobody is looking at the fact that hundreds of people from all sections of society and religious faiths participated in the rally organised every year to spread the message of communal harmony”.

State Congress Committee general secretary in-charge Rajiv Singh said so far there has been no complaint of obscenity during the rally and if there was any, the state Congress would decide whether an enquiry was required.

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