Also read: Bhakts, don't rejoice yet, Vidya Balan is still a liberal
In the ongoing and rapidly expanding spat between award returnees and non-returnees, the final word, it would seem, has been spoken. On Thursday, responding to a query, Vidya Balan said she would not return the National Award for her work in The Dirty Picture. "The National Award," she said, "is not given by the government, but the nation. Returning it would mean rejecting the love of the nation."
Balan's words introduce a measure of sanity to a debate that has got shriller by the day. With even scientists now joining the list of those returning the awards, the danger is the government will be able to paint them with the same brush; consequently, there will be little effect of the protests on the ground situation. Already, the narrative on social media has been hijacked by those who have asked of the award returnees why they did not protest during the UPA rule. To be sure, this "whataboutery" worked initially when the political inclinations of the award returnees could be deemed suspect but now that the trickle has turned into a tide, it seems to have lost its sting. Having said that, with the top brass in the government refusing to clearly denounce those within its ranks for their loose utterances, and even calling the protests "manufactured", the atmosphere is likely to stay vitiated.
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