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'I am not Amitabh's spokesman'

A combative Amar Singh sought to distance himself from the controversy surrounding I-T notices to Bachchans.

india Updated: Jun 15, 2006 17:22 IST

Samajwadi Party general secretary Amar Singh, who had criticised Congress chief Sonia Gandhi for reported income tax notices to Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan, on Thursday distanced himself from the controversy, saying he was not Bachchan's spokesman.

"I am not Amitabh Bachchan's spokesman. Neither my party nor I did ever try to make it an issue," said Singh who had alleged that the reported income tax notices to Bachchan and his wife Jaya Bachchan were meant to harass them.

While Amitabh Bachchan is a close friend of Singh, Jaya Bachchan has been a Samajwadi Party MP.

"What have I done?" he asked. "I have not talked about Bachchan's notices at all. It was media that dug out everything. I have not spoken to anyone," Singh told reporters at a press conference.

He, however, tried to put up a brave face on the issue of the income tax department's notice to his wife Pankaja Kumari Singh, reportedly asking her to declare all her properties and assets acquired during the past six years.

Singh challenged the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government to order income tax raids on his homes, saying the move would only benefit him politically and could create uproar in and outside parliament.

"I invite income tax officials to raid my homes. It would benefit me politically as it has in the past when (Bahujan Samaj Party leader) Mayawati ordered raids against us when she was Uttar Pradesh chief minister," he said.

The income tax department has sent 37 notices to Amitabh Bachchan, Jaya Bachchan and their actor son Abhishek Bachchan in the last three months, according to reports.

A group of people, said to be Samajwadi Party activists, had taken out a rally in Uttar Pradesh's capital Lucknow earlier this week to protest the income tax department's move.

They had also burnt the effigies of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Gandhi, blaming them for "hounding of Bachchan by income tax officials".

Singh, though, said his party did not hold any protests in support of the superstar.

The Congress party has warned the Samajwadi Party leaders that he had "crossed all limits of decency to gain cheap popularity".

The Samajwadi Party supports Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's Congress-led government from outside. In Uttar Pradesh, it is supported by the Congress.