NEW DELHI: The BJP and the opposition Congress sparred over an invitation to Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan to share the stage with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at an event on May 28 to mark the NDA government’s second year in office.
The Congress targeted Bachchan on Wednesday, saying a wrong signal would go to agencies investigating the Panama Papers if the actor hosted the Modi-led government’s anniversary celebrations.
“Everyone loves him. We also respect him. I hope his name will be exonerated in the Panama Papers expose. He has himself also denied it. But as of now he is an accused and investigating agencies are probing the matter,” Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said.
The actor clarified that he was only scheduled to anchor a segment on Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, a government scheme for the girl child.
The Panama Papers, based on an investigation by more than 100 other news organisations around the world, is a global list revealing offshore links of over 500 Indians, including Bachchan and his daughter-inlaw Aishwarya Rai Bachchan. The megastar has denied any wrongdoing.
But Surjewala feared that Bachchan’s presence at the event could dilute the fight against black money. “What happens to the PM’s pre-poll solemn promise of bringing back black money stashed abroad and punish the guilty?”
The BJP jumped to Bachchan’s defence, saying the Panama Papers have nothing to do with an event linked with the social issue of protecting the girl child.
Party spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain said the superstar has done a lot of good in films and people love him more than Congress vicepresident Rahul Gandhi, but this should not be a reason for the Congress to be jealous about.
Modi and his colleagues are expected to attend the event, Zara Muskura Do (Smile Please), at India Gate that will be hosted by Bachchan — who is also a United Nations ambassador for the Girl Child. The show will be beamed across the country by Doordarshan.
Union culture minister Mahesh Sharma said actor is only hosting a programme and he is not yet proven guilty by any court.
Law minister DV Sadananda Gowda agreed. “We have seen so many cases against politicians. (Investigating) Agencies do their duty independently. There is no harm,” he said.