Does the BJP sense an opportunity for the party to cosy up to Amitabh Bachchan after the superstar’s face-off with the Congress over his presence at the opening of the Bandra-Worli sea link?
The party has not only defended Bachchan but also sharply attacked the Congress for targeting him because of “animosity between his family and Sonia Gandhi’s”.
Party spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said, “We are with him and his family because of the politics of vendetta unleashed by the Congress leaders. Is endorsing Gujarat a big sin? Is it in Pakistan? That’s a ruse for the Congress leaders to please the Gandhi family.”
The row with the Congress started last week when Bachchan attended the sea link opening in Mumbai where Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan was also present. A section of the Congress objected to his presence as Bachchan is the brand ambassador for BJP-ruled Gujarat.
In January, at a special screening of Paa in Gandhinagar, Bachchan had asked for tax exemption for the movie. Modi agreed, but wanted the actor to endorse Gujarat as a tourism destination. On the same day, Amar Singh, a close friend of the Bachchans, resigned from the Samajwadi Party.
The Bachchan-Modi deal being a business proposition, many BJP leaders had not considered any scope for Bachchan to get close to them. Also, his family’s proximity to Amar Singh, and Jaya Bachchan still being a Rajya Sabha MP of the Samajwadi Party, left little room for speculation.
But the row with the Congress may have changed all that.
On Sunday, V K Malhotra, Leader of Opposition in the Delhi Assembly, suggested Bachchan as the main brand ambassador for the Commonwealth Games. In a letter to IOA president Suresh Kalmadi, Malhotra, also an executive board member of the CWG, said given his credentials and star status, Bachchan fit the post best.
On record, however, the BJP maintains that its focus is on the Congress’s approach towards the superstar.
“The way in which it has behaved only shows how untouchabililty is practised by the Congress and that is the direct outcome of the fascist character of the party,” said BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman. “Just because Bachchan’s family has differences with one Congress family, the entire party and even the government in states where they are in power are keen not even to be seen on one platform with him.”