Terming the ban on Shah Rukh Khan as “undemocratic and unwarranted”, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee yesterday batted for the Bollywood superstar and urged the Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) to reconsider its five-year ban on the actor from entering Wankhede stadium for alleged misbehaviour.
“I feel harsh punishment has been meted out for a minor offence. The game should be taken as a game only. I'm speaking not as a chief minister, but as a commoner. This is undemocratic and unwarranted. I appeal (to MCA) please reconsider the decision,” she said. Shah Rukh Khan, the co-owner of IPL team Kolkata Knight Riders and West Bengal’s brand ambassador, had allegedly misbehaved with security personnel and MCA officials at the stadium on Wednesday night.
Banerjee said she didn’t want to interfere in the matter and requested the media not to distort her comments because of the sensitive nature of the issue.“Maharastra is the capital of India in terms of business. From Sachin to Shah Rukh, they are very close to us. They are our pride. I don’t know if it is appropriate for me to comment on the issue,” she said. However, she added, “Shah Rukh is our brand ambassador. There is an emotional thing attached to it.”
Describing the issue as trivial, Banerjee said, “I think the people of Maharastra don’t accept this decision on Shah Rukh Khan who, in the past, has also been heckled abroad. I was not at the spot, but what I watched or heard from TV, it is not a big issue.” She also warned those who were trying to gain “political mileage” from the issue. “I will like to ask them not to play with fire,” she said. Banerjee, however, refused to comment if she would talk to the Maharashtra CM on the issue. “I will not inform you about what I will do. I came only to express my views.”