To avoid another "sealink fiasco", Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan is unlikely to share the dais with Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan at a Marathi literary meet in Pune on Sunday.
Chavan is facing the heat from within the Congress for sharing the stage with the Bollywood star at the inauguration of the northern carriageway of the Mumbai Bandra-Worli sealink on Wednesday.
The Congress has now "directed" Chavan to steer clear of the star, a party leader said on condition of anonymity.
Though the CM has claimed he didn't know that Bachchan had been invited, his detractors says the actor's name was there on the invites and hoardings put up for the event. The dissidents want Chavan sacked and some of them plan to write to party chief Sonia Gandhi.
The Congress believes that any association with the star, appointed the brand ambassador of Gujarat where Narendra Modi is the chief minister, doesn't go down well with workers. The party holds Modi responsible for the 2002 anti-Muslim riots in the state.
Officially, the party maintained that it hadn't issued any directions to Chavan.
"There is no question on curbing his freedom but it is the prerogative of the party to decide whether a person associated with Modi is to be invited to official functions," spokesman Abhishek Singhvi said.
The Bachchan row has widened the rift between the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), the coalition partners ruling Maharashtra.
The ties took a beating when some Congress leaders blamed NCP boss and Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar for spiraling food prices. The NCP got back by inviting the star to the sealink function.