Hours after his party mouthpiece dragged Amitabh Bachchan into the Hogenakkal row by praising Tamil superstar Rajnikant, Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray on Saturday distanced himself from the remarks saying it was not his views and that the actor was a "family friend."
"Amitabh Bachchan is our family friend. I have neither said anything against him nor written against him in the editorial. The hue and cry which has been created by the media regarding the news in Saamna is condemnable. Our relations with Amitabh are not so weak that it can be broken by electronic media news," Thackeray said in a statement in Mumbai.
Thackeray said the relations between him and the Bachchan family will be unaffected because it is a bond of love.
A front page article in today's edition of `Saamna,' the Sena mouthpiece edited by Thackeray, targeted Bachchan, who was born in Uttar Pradesh but attained stardom in Mumbai, on the issue of Marathi pride.
While praising Rajnikant for taking the side of Tamil Nadu over the Hogenakkal water row with Karnataka even though he did not hail from the state, it said he had "dwarfed" actors like Bachchan who would "backtrack when it comes to taking a firm stand on the issue of Maharashtrian regional pride."
But Bachchan stung by the comparision with Rajnikant apparently was visibly agitated when reporters sought his comments on the Saamna araticle. The Bollywood star said no one need to question what he did for Maharashtra.
"Do you think I have not worked for Maharashtra. Have I not done anything for this state? What do you think? If you dont know an answer to this, it is unfair for you to question me," the Big B shot back.
Though Saamna had not made any adverse comment on Big B in its editorial column, the front page report was full of comments that compared him with the Tamil superstar.
The article praised Rajnikant for supporting Tamil Nadu on the water row even though that state was not his birth place.
The article pointed out that Rajnikant grew up in Karnataka but became a superstar in Tamil Nadu. Though of Maharashtra origin, Rajnikant stood by Tamil Nadu on the water issue. By his stand Rajnikant has dwarfed many superstars like Amitabh, it said.
Two months back Thackeray's estranged nephew Raj, who broke away from Sena and floated his own party Maharashtra Navnirman Sena in 2006, had questioned Big B's loyalty to the state saying he was taking more interest in Uttar Pradesh than Maharashtra.
At that time Shiv Sena had come out in support of Bachchan, whose ties with the Thackeray family are several decades old.