Chief Minister Ashok Chavan, scheduled to be part of the concluding session of a Marathi literary meet on Sunday, attended the event in Pune on Saturday to avoid sharing the dais with Amitabh Bachchan.
Both Chavan and Bachchan had confirmed their participation in Sunday’s session.
However, after the CM got into trouble for having shared the stage with Bachchan at the Bandra-Worli sealink inauguration on Wednesday, and was directed by the party leadership that there should not be a repeat of that.
Congress leaders had objected to Bachchan’s presence as the Gandhis and the actor’s family developed differences two decades ago and because Bachchan is linked to the Samajwadi Party and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
Chavan called up the organisers of the meet two hours before his arrival at noon and participated in the discussion on Freedom of Expression and Social Pressures.
As references to his unscheduled visit drew reactions from the audience, Chavan said he felt, for a while, that he was in the assembly.
Chavan later said his visit was a stopover.
“I was on my way to Baramati for the national-level kabaddi competition and took a halt here to educate myself,” he said.
Asked if he would come back on Sunday, he merely said, “There are 24 hours to go.”
The BJP on Saturday criticised the Congress for the “unfair” treatment of Bachchan.
“It was not just an insult to Bachchan but it amounts to an insult of arts, culture and our traditions. Besides it is undemocratic,” BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said.
The Congress could “not digest” Bachchan becoming the brand ambassador of Gujarat, he said.