Congress president Sonia Gandhi has not spoken to Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh about the recent developments in Mumbai that saw Maharashtra Navrnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray lashing out at the Bachchans and his activists vandalizing a theatre where Amitabh-starrer The Last Lear was to be shown.
“The Congress president has not spoken to me,” Deshmukh told HT on phone. In the process, he denied reports suggesting that Sonia has instructed him to boost Bachchan’s security. Well-placed Congress sources in Delhi also denied reports about Sonia speaking to the CM.
Reports to this effect came in the backdrop of comments by Margaret Alva, AICC general secretary in charge of Maharashtra, that Sonia may be talking to the CM. On Wednesday, Alva had apprised Sonia of the situation where Raj Thackeray and Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray, she alleged, were competing with each other to use language and caste to divide people. She also spoke to Deshmukh to ensure the security of the life and property of people. The CM assured her that the situation was under control. Alva also told reporters that Sonia may speak to Deshmukh on the issue.
Alva’s remarks — read in tandem with Information and Broadcasting Minister P.R. Dasmunsi condemning the attack on the Mumbai multiplex — were interpreted in certain sections as a sign of a thaw between the Gandhi and Bachchan families, particularly as it came in the wake of a rapprochement between the Congress and the Samajwadi Party, which has close links with the Bachchans. Sources, however, denied any such thaw.
Asked if he had spoken to Bachchan, Deshmukh said he had not. “The police may have taken some steps (about security),” was all he said.