Actor Salman Khan flew kites with Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi and had lunch with him on Tuesday, but declined to be drawn into endorsing the Bharatiya Janata Party leader as the next prime minister.
“God should decide who is the best man for the country and the best man should be the PM,” Salman said at Ghatlodia in Ahmedabad, with the BJP prime ministerial nominee standing alongside during the annual kite festival organised on Makar Sankranti.
Salman, who in town to promote his film Jai Ho, had accepted an invitation from Modi’s office to participate in the Uttarayan festival, fly kites and have lunch, according to people close to the actor.
Following persistent media queries about whether he backed Modi as the next prime minister, Salman said, “I belong to the film line. I can clearly answer questions on films. On politics, because of my limited knowledge, I will not be able to give clear answers. If I begin answering your questions, I will get trapped.”
The actor, whose remarks have often set off controversies, refused to be drawn into a fresh one. He had faced massive criticism for his remark that the 26/11 terror attack had got so much attention because the "elite" were targeted.
"Modi Saheb should definitely get whatever is in his destiny, he must. Modi Saheb has brought so much progress to Gujarat," the actor said.
With journalists still not giving up on the prime ministerial question, Salman said, “I am not from Gujarat. I come from Bandra in Mumbai and for me the best candidates are Baba Siddique and Priya Dutt (both Congress). My agreeing or disagreeing will not matter much.
"For you Modi Saheb is the best man and for me it is Baba Siddique and Priya Dutt. May the best win.”
With the crowd chanting “Modi! Modi”, Salman said, "I like him very much. He is a great man, he is doing a lot for the state. I wish Modi Saheb all the best in his life.”
The meeting, about which Modi posted on Twitter, created a flutter.
It was good to see Salman Khan trying his hand at flying kites! He flew the kites well pic.twitter.com/ErD15j5Fyp— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) January 14, 2014
Having Undhiyu for lunch with Salman Khan. Undhiyu is a Gujarati delicacy and is a must-have during Uttarayan!— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) January 14, 2014
Modi still finds it difficult to shake off allegations that he did not act decisively to prevent the 2002 riots in Gujarat. According to state government records, of more than 1,200 people killed in the riots, nearly 950 were Muslims.
Salman’s film promotion and the photo op the meeting provided received extensive media coverage.
It also fed social media buzz with a mixed bag of comments.
Arvind Kejiriwal and Narendra Modi are working towards their PM goal. Former hugs Kapil Sibal and latter meets Salman Khan. #NaMo4PM— Badal Chowdhary (@badalrocks) January 14, 2014
Votes Congress, Dances with SP, Promotes AAP in movies, Praises Modi, Salman Khan will be unanimously elected as our next President!— Gappistan Radio (@GappistanRadio) January 14, 2014
Later in the day, Salman’s father, noted scriptwriter Salim Khan, asserted his son did not endorse Modi.
“Salman went to promote his film. When a big star goes somewhere, the chief minister of the state ends up meeting the star. What is the harm in meeting? There is no agenda or motive behind such a meeting. Salman has no connection with politics. We are a totally apolitical family. We have relationship with everyone. None of us had, have or will have any interest in politics,” the senior Khan told HT.
(With inputs from PTI)