Film director Vinod Tiwari on Monday announced his decision to stop working on his film Zila Gorakhpur after a senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader and others criticised the poster for the proposed movie, DNA reported.

The poster depicts a Hindu monk holding a gun with his back to the camera, and a cow next to him. Critics said the image bears a resemblance to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath, who belongs to the Nath sect, and that the project was an attempt to tarnish the BJP leader’s image. Some reports claimed the film was loosely based on Adityanath’s life. According to DNA, it would also have covered “saffron terrorism” and “mob lynching”.

Tiwari said he decided to drop his film after seeing the reactions to the poster on social media. “The decision to close the project was taken in public and national interest,” the daily quoted Tiwari as saying. “I had no intentions to hurt public sentiments. The film was unnecessarily dragged into the controversy which was uncalled for as there was nothing controversial in the proposed film.”

Senior BJP leader and former state minister IP Singh took to Twitter to criticise the poster and warned that the film “would not be tolerated” or allowed to be released. Singh alleged that his sources had told him that Samajwadi Party leader Abu Azmi was involved in the project that is a “conspiracy to defame the chief minister ahead of the elections in 2019”.

Singh said he had filed a first information report with the Vibhuti Khand Police Station against the director who has attempted to ruin the reputation of the Hindu culture, the Nath Sect to which Adityanath belongs, and the chief minister. “I have a strong objection to the use of words like mob lynching and Hindu terrorism in the film,’ DNA quoted Singh as saying.