Amitabh Bachchan has broken his silence on the Nehru-Gandhi family with a rare, indulgent view of Rahul Gandhi in what could be an indication of improving relations between the Congress and Samajwadi Party.
<b1>Speaking on Rahul’s prime ministerial potential, Bachchan refused to compare him with his father Rajiv Gandhi, merely saying: “I do wish him all the best in his future ventures.”
More significantly, he told CNN-IBN that in the event of a Congress-SP rapprochement, the parties would have his “best wishes”, though he would himself keep away.
“I will be at my home. I will be away from the crowd. These are political events that are not for me. (But) my best wishes are always with the Samajwadi Party and the Congress,” he said.
SP sources said the remarks should not be seen as a sign of Bachchan personally warming to the Gandhis. What they probably do indicate, however, is the fact that the superstar’s close relationship with SP general secretary Amar Singh may not come in the way of the two parties working together.
Bachchan's comments may also be connected with Amar Singh's recent meeting - without the Left's interface - with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, from which he came away with a "firm assurance" that the Women's Reservation Bill would not be pushed through in its present form without consultations with its most vocal opponents.
The SP, along with Lalu Prasad's RJD, has opposed the Bill vehemently. On the other hand, the Left's raucous clamour for the legislation, going along with the BJP and Congress on the issue, has soured somewhat the SP's equation with the CPM, giving Mulayam Singh and Amar Singh a legitimate excuse to explore fresh political tie-ups.
"We want the UNPA and its ties with the Left intact. But that may not be possible if the Left and the TDP (a UNPA party) cross the elastic limits of politics on the women's reservation issue," a senior SP leader told Hindustan Times. "Social realities are not conducive for women's quota without a sub-quota for the OBCs and other weaker sections."
At the core of such prognosis is the assumption that the Congress's backing of the bill is "token" in nature, torn as it is between the RJD's staunch opposition and the Left's opposite, but equally powerful, demand.
For the Congress, ties with the SP assume significance in view of their common enemy BSP, which now seeks to expand its base beyond Uttar Pradesh, said the leader.