Bachchan row exposes chink in ‘link’

Chavan amitabh

The Congress and its coalition partner, the NCP on Thursday took different stands on the invite to Amitabh Bachchan to attend a function to inaugurate the second phase of Bandra-Worli Sea Link on Wednesday. While the Congress gave up its usual reticence to comment on the actor and justified party leaders' criticism of him, the NCP saw nothing wrong in extending invitation to Bachchan.

CM Ashok Chavan, who has maintained that he was not aware of the invitation to the actor, was learnt to have taken the same stance in his clarification to the high command.

"The party is aware of what happened there. The CM has clarified the situation. The question is not about Bachchan as a person or an actor. There is resentment against him among party workers, but the reason is not personal. Their anger is because of the fact that Bachchan is seen standing by the side of Narendra Modi. In such a situation, Congress workers have the moral right to do so (criticise)," said AICC media cell head Janardan Dwivedi.

Senior NCP leader Tariq Anwar, however, justified the presence of Bachchan at the function saying that even Opposition parties are invited to official functions. "As far as Bachchan is concerned, he is a celebrity. Such official functions are not of any political party. Even the Shiv Sena and BJP are invited. Sachin Tendulkar was contacted, but he was not available. It was not a Congress function. There was no intention to create a controversy," he said.

The controversy is being seen as having its roots in the groupism within the Congress and the ambition of Mumbai Region Congress Committee president Kripashankar Singh to become a minister in the Chavan Cabinet. The invitation cards issued by the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation did not mention Bachchan as an invitee, but advertisements mentioned him as a special invitee. NCP leaders like Minister for Public Works Jaidutt Kshirsagar, who also heads MSRDC, justified Bachchan being invited to the function on grounds that he was a Mumbai icon. Singh, who did not attend the function, said Congress leaders such as Vilasrao Deshmukh and Sushilkumar Shinde should have been invited for the function, hosted by the MSRDC which is controlled by the NCP.

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