NEW DELHI – Suraj Pal Amu, a regional political leader of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party who had allegedly offered a bounty of $1.5 million against filmmaker and lead actor of the Bollywood film “Padmavati,” stepped down from his party position on Wednesday.
Amu, the chief media coordinator of the party in the northern Indian state of Haryana, had announced two weeks ago the bounty on the heads of the film’s director Sanjay Leela Bhansali, and popular actor Deepika Padukone, who plays the role of the film’s protagonist, Queen Padmavati.
The film – the story of a 13th century queen belonging to the warrior Rajput community who took her own life in order to protect her own and her family’s honor after her husband Rana Ratan Singh was killed by Muslim emperor Alauddin Khilji – has offended Hindu nationalists in the country, who have been protesting against its release.
The protests erupted over rumors of an alleged romantic dream sequence (that Bhansali has denied filming) between the Muslim emperor and the Hindu queen.
Following widespread outrage over his comments, Amu resigned on Wednesday, Veer Kumar Yadav, a BJP spokesperson in Haryana told EFE.
Amu said in his resignation letter that he was unhappy and hurt by the attitude of the Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar – who had refused to ban the film before the Central Board of Film Certification had taken its decision – toward Rajputs.
In a public statement, Khattar had also distanced himself from Amu’s statements and said they were his personal opinions and not those of the government.
The release of the film, originally scheduled for Dec. 1, was pushed back following attacks by fringe groups in theaters where the film’s trailer was being shown.
The protests, along with speculation over the way the queen was portrayed in the film, led various Indian chief ministers to halt its release in their states.
Earlier this week, the Supreme Court had pulled up the state authorities saying that it was not up to them to ban films and that the decision should be left to the CBFC.