In 1984, when Amitabh Bachchan contested the Lok Sabha elections for the first time (from Allahabad), he defeated the former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, HN Bahuguna, in a clean sweep.
Back then, reports even claimed that his "victory margin was one of the biggest in the history of India’s general elections". But three years after his win, he stepped down from his position.
never returned to politics. Thirty years on, with the Lok Sabha elections coming up again, we speak to the veteran actor about his political inclinations, his association with BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, and how he ended up promoting Gujarat Tourism.
A number of people from the film fraternity are contesting in the elections this time. Have you not been offered a ticket from any political party?
No, no, no, no… I am not interested in politics. I am not political either. And people who are going there (towards politics), it’s a free country, and they can do what they like.
Why have you become so apolitical?
I don’t know politics.
Yet, your upcoming film is a political satire…
Yea, I think you can call it a satire on the present condition of the nation, but in a very humorous way…. There is a lot of drama as well.
You’ve been promoting Gujarat tourism for a while. The state’s Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, who is also the BJP’s PM candidate is your good friend too…
I went to Gujarat to seek tax exemption for Paa (2009)… you have to apply to the Chief Minister (for that). When I went there, he (Modi) wanted to see it himself. He liked the film and gave the tax exemption. During our conversation, he asked, "Why we don’t shoot films in Gujarat..." Then he told me something that surprised me. He said that the most number of archaeological sites in India are in Gujarat. So I said this is something that needs to be talked about and…I would be glad to do that. Immediately, he talked to his tourism department and set up this campaign. That’s how I met him and did this Gujarat Tourism campaign and it has worked very well. It has really improved the state’s tourism quotient.
Do you agree that Gujarat is one of the most developed states in India right now?
Well, I don’t know; experts can say that. But it’s very keen on development.
Do you think this development will find its way to the entire country if Modi…
I guess so, but there are claims and counter-claims: which is the most industrialised, or which are more progressive states. I don’t want to get into all that, but yes, I am happy that I was able to do this campaign and bring some amount of credit to tourism in Gujarat.