Actor Amitabh Bachchan continues to widen the rift between ruling partners, the Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress.
After inviting him to the opening of the Bandra Worli sea links’ second carriageway in Mumbai last week, the NCP now wants him to attend an official ceremony to inaugurate a theatre in Islampur, Sangli district, home turf of rural development minister Jayant Patil.
Patil first invited Bachchan to inaugurate the revamped theatre for the performing arts four months ago. He extended the second invitation around a fortnight ago.
State Congress president Manikrao Thakare objected, saying Bachchan must come clean on his association with Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi (accused in the communal riots that ravaged the state). The actor promotes Gujarat’s tourism as brand ambassador.
“We will continue to oppose him as long as he is associated with Modi,’’ Thakare said. Patil said there was no need to politicise the issue. “People like me are fans of Mr Bachchan. Aren’t you? This is a function to inaugurate a theatre, and he is an eminent personality from the performing arts field. There was a demand to invite him from my council and we have done that.”
He said there was no divide within the NCP over the actor. “It’ll be nice if he can make it. We decided to inaugurate the theatre on a day of his convenience. He hasn’t got back yet.”
After the Congress criticised Bachchan’s presence at the Mumbai function, Chief Minister Ashok Chavan avoided sharing the dais with the actor at Pune’s Marathi literary meet last Sunday.
Chavan attended the meet a day before while Bachchan stole the show next day when he said that he was a Maharashtrian and the state had helped him scale heights in his career.
In his blog, Bachchan wrote: “May I now place before you what came in to me from the Rural Development Minister. I think if my presence brings discomfort, I must need some advice and that is what I seek today.”