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Dubai: Indian actor Anupam Kher has once again stirred up a Twitter storm when he questioned a letter by over 600 artists from the film and theatre industry in India asking people to vote against the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.

Yesterday, a petition titled ‘An appeal to fellow citizen’ was carried by Indian media outlets and apparently published in 12 languages by ‘Artists unite India’. In the appeal, the artists urged Indian citizens to vote out the BJP government. The appeal ended by saying: “Vote to empower the weakest, protect liberty, protect the environment, and foster scientific thinking. Vote for secular democratic, inclusive India. Vote for the freedom to dream. Vote wisely.”

Actor Anupam Kher, who has in the past questioned the patriotism and commitment to the country of fellow actors like Amir Khan and Nandita Das, commented on the joint statement, observing that it was campaigning for opposition parties.

He tweeted a gif of himself chanting “Bharat Mata Ki Jai” [Victory to Mother India] and wrote: “So some people from my fraternity have issued a letter for public to vote out the present constitutionally elected government in the coming elections. In other words they are officially campaigning for opposition parties. Good!! At least there are no pretensions here. Great.”

Many social media users, including Bollywood actors, reacted on Twitter. Actress Soni Razdan asked: “Anupam if you can align yourself to the present Govt why would you think others doing the same is any different? Just curious” Kher responded: “Dearest Soni! It was an observation. Not a complaint.:)”

Razdan politely ended the exchange by saying: “Acha jee :) [Okay]”

Another actress Swara Bhasker responded: “Yes, it’s called democracy sir. Bharat Mata ki Jai!”

Other social media users dug up an old tweet by Kher to make their arguments. In 2014, Kher had tweeted: “Since a few of my colleagues are telling people who to vote for it is also important to tell people to vote for @narendramodi for betterment of India.”

Tweep @samjawed65 shared screenshots of both tweets and wrote: “Today Anupam Kher is shocked at his fraternity campaigning to vote for the opposition. Never mind that 5 years ago he was doing the same. Jai ho!”

Another tweep @realpongapandit wrote: “What makes you a judge Mr Kher? In a democracy, everyone is free to choose a political ideology and to profess it. The exact freedom that you’re enjoying since before 2014.”

Social media users also criticised the actor for equating a political party with the country. Tweep @Hey_Vaibhav wrote: “It is the constitutional right of theirs, but it seems your definition of Constitution is very party centric @AnupamPKher ji.”

@DwivediSurbhi tweeted: “What’s with the GIF? Artists, writers etc from the industry have asked to vote BJP out and that @AnupamPKher is not against India.”