Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan is the new strain on the Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party’s (NCP) ties.
The star was a guest at the inauguration of the northern carriageway of the Mumbai’s Bandra-Worli sealink, India’s first sea bridge, on Wednesday. His presence at a government event hasn’t gone down well with a section of the local Congress, the senior coalition partner of the NCP in the state.
The Congress is upset with the NCP for inviting the actor. Chief Minister Ashok Chavan claimed he didn’t know Bachchan was invited. “… I wouldn’t have attended the function had I known he would be present.”
Maharashtra PWD Minister Jaydutta Kshirsagar invited him, said the actor. “… The minister incharge of the function invited me through his official letter head,” he told CNN-IBN.
The Congress, at the national level, justified state leaders’ anger against the star. “…Our workers are angry about the fact that he has identified himself with Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi,” said media chief Janardan Dwivedi.
The star was last month appointed the brand ambassador of Gujarat, where Modi, who the Congress blames for 2002 anti-Muslim riots, is the CM.
The NCP took a different view. It wasn’t a party event but an official function where all celebrities and even the opposition leaders were invited, it said. “So, there is nothing wrong if the invitation had been extended to icons like Amtiabhji and Sachin Tendulkar,” general secretary Tariq Anwar told HT.
The Congress backed Chavan. “The Chief Minister has already given a clarification. Nothing more is required now,” Dwivedi said.
Once close, relations between the Bachchans and the Gandhi family have been troubled for many years now.
Bachchan said he was asked to promote tourism. “If people think that I should not do it because of Modi then it is ridiculous. Why don’t you ask Ambanis and Tatas to move away?”