Padma Shri has drawn 'Laxman rekha' for me, want to stay away from politics: folk singer Madhu Mansuri

Mona Parthsarathi

New Delhi, Jan 31 (PTI) Folk singer Madhu Mansuri, who made the headlines for attending a cultural programme at an anti-CAA protest the day his name was announced for a Padma Shri, says the honour has drawn a 'Laxman rekha' for him and he wants to stay away from all political issues.

The renowned singer from Jharkhand, who was chosen for the government award this year, has dissociated himself from the protest, and said he has full faith in the law and the Constitution.

“I can speak on many issues but I don’t want to speak. I don’t want to be dragged into any controversy. I am an artiste and I want to stay away from political issues,” the 71-year-old Mansuri told PTI in an interview over the phone.

Mansuri, who has written and sung several Nagpuri songs for the movement of a separate state of Jharkhand, was present at a protest against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and the proposed NRC in Ranchi on January 27.

The artiste, a landless farmer, also crooned his famous song ”Gaon chhodam nahi, jungle chhodab nahi, mai-maati chhodam nahi, ladai chhodab nahi (will not leave our village, or our forests, not our mother earth and will not give up our fight)' at the event.

“I am neutral and apolitical. I have full faith in the law and Constitution of this country. There is no reason for not doing that. Let the law get implemented first, then judge whether it is right or wrong,' said the singer-activist.

“We want patronage from politicians for our art to prosper but don’t want to be a part of politics. Now a 'Laxman rekha' has been drawn after this honour,” he said.

So why did he join the cultural programme, 'Ek Shaam Samvidhan Ke Naam', held to “celebrate constitutional values” in support of the anti-CAA protests? “I went there but not to take part in the protest meeting. I was invited by the Janwadi Lekhak Sangh, not by the protesters. When I went there, they invited me to be a part of the protest but I categorically told them that I am not in a position to join them,” said Mansuri who was awarded the Jharkhand Ratna in 2011.

Terming the Padma award an important milestone, he said it will inspire him to work for Jharkhandi culture, literature and art with a new found energy.

“We want that all official work in the state should be done in our language. Like Bangla is used in West Bengal... We want our language to be used in the state, from the grassroots to higher levels,” he said.

Mansuri said the government should take initiatives for the betterment of folk artistes who often don't have financial security.

“The situation of folk artistes is not very good. They should get pension and financial aid. If they are educated, they should get jobs. I will appeal for it and it’s my duty to do so,” said the singer who sang his first song for the Jharkhand movement when he was just 12.

He credits his music to three influences -- his father Abdul Redman Mansur, the natural beauty of Jharkhand and the tribals of the state who gave him immense love and respect.

“I am a landless man but the tribals of Jharkhand gave me their land for agriculture which my sons do. I earn Rs 2,000 to Rs 4,000 per programme. I am content and have no regrets in life. I am blessed to have so much love from people across religions,” he said.

Asked why he hasn't encouraged his children to follow in his footsteps, Mansuri said simply, “I have been successful but there is no guarantee that they will emulate it.” PTI MJ MIN MIN