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The politics of the Thackerays and Amitabh Bachchan

April 9, 2008

The sparring between the Thackerays (local political leaders of Maharashrra ) and film star Amitabh Bachchan would have been amusing if it hadn’t been so serious. It all started a few months ago in February when Raj Thackeray of MNS (break-away group of the Shiv Sena) ridiculed Bachchan for being a “brand ambassador”for Uttar Pradesh and his wanting to build a girls school in that state. Well, as a result of Raj T’s rhetoric, a mob attacked Bachchan’s house and his office too.
Then at the end of last month Poster MNS did it again. This time they used a poster to mock Bachchan for going back on his decision to donate his agricultural land to farmers in the Pune district.

One would have thought that this tension would die its own death, but no. Just a few days ago, when the superstar of the Southern film industry Rajnikant (a native of Maharashtra but now a Tamilian), supported the Tamil cause over the Hoggenkal drinking water project, Bal Thackeray of the Shiv Sena could not resist making a dig at Bachchan. In an article in his party’s mouthpiece Saamna, he wrote that Bachchan should emulate Rajnikant and show similar loyalty to the state which has given him his bread and butter. He did regret his outburst (!) and later said that Bachchan is a “superstar of the entire country” and one should not “drag him into needless controversy of regionalism.”

Amitabh Bachchan Well, wanting to do something for ones own country, state, town, village or whatever is natural. And he does have a right to do whatever he wants. It’s a free country and come on, do we complain when NRIs spend their money here? Oh no, we want them to spend more! If they don’t we are quick to accuse them of disloyalty to their home. However I would have admired Bachchan more If he had done it for the love of U.P. One can’t help feeling that he is doing it not to help U.P but to help his friend Amar Singh, a well known oppostion politician in U.P. At the same time I think the MNS and the Shiv Sena have a right to criticize Bachchan doing things for U.P because Bachchan is close to Amar Singh, who is the secretary-general of the Samajwadi Party, a party which the Sena feels is a threat to them in Maharashtra. It finally boils down to politics and by publicly aligning himself with powerful politicians Bachchan has become vulnerable to criticism.

Actually Uttar Pradesh needs Bachchan more than Maharashtra does. Who can deny that? Bachchan has given enough to Maharashtra by paying his taxes here. Everything else is voluntary.

(First photo is from Rediff and the second from wikimedia)

Related Reading: The campaign by MNS to get rid of “outsiders” has deep roots

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14 Comments leave one →
  1. April 9, 2008 8:49 am

    It is high time for the public to start ignoring politicians and film stars.

  2. April 9, 2008 12:21 pm

    actually UP, Bihar need all of us more than Maharashtra or Tamil Nadu or any of the developed states do !

    I was having this conversation with my mother on Rajnikant … and her take was that the Tamil Audience means more than the Karnataka audience (film going) and therefore his support for the TN cause was understandable … i called her a cynic. 🙂
    but, the fact remains that the Hindi speaking audience outnumbers the Marathi speaking audience for Hindi films… so Mr. Bachchan’s support for UP may make more sense…
    i hate to think that commerce dictates loyalties… but maybe it does….

  3. perspectiveofsuda permalink
    April 9, 2008 12:51 pm

    Harini have a good point here!
    I tried to be in Amitabh’s shoes(I mean imagined I am a celebrity like him) and then thought about these events. And I am damn sure that even I would have preferred Maharashtra(my own state) for any social work.
    May be its because the place where one is born and spent childhood is always “HOME” for him/her.

  4. perspectiveofsuda permalink
    April 9, 2008 12:58 pm

    And about Shiv Sena……… forget it yaar, they have lost their creativity 😀

  5. akp permalink
    April 9, 2008 3:02 pm

    Raj Thackeray is insane……the approach used by him to keep his point is absolutely irrationale…..why were the poor people from north india beaten up by his partymen……the foolish MNS party should have asked the corporates world to take in more marathis or provide reservation,… by bring this to legislation…….and then if at all it was passed by government, people wud have quietly and automatically left…… is well understood and guaranteed that by all this nonsense of MNS & Raj, nothing is going to change…..mumbai will never be composed of 100% marathis…….how these stupid thoughts come into the minds of these cheap politicians……???

  6. Bharath permalink
    April 9, 2008 3:23 pm

    Media needs to become more intelligent. They have been great help to Raj & many more.

    Now in karnataka similar kind of NMS party is raising thru cavery water dispute.. it’s more of Anti-kannada group. Trust me it’s gonna grow madly next few years…

  7. April 9, 2008 3:34 pm

    Old Sailor, they won’t let you! 🙂

    Harini, I have no doubt that Rajnikant did think of his Tamil fans, and I am sure this must have been a factor in his decision. He grew up in karnataka and therefore has some loyalty to that state too and I guess that is why he had refused to take sides in the cauvery issue earlier. I have a feeling he was pressurized this time. About Bachchan, I wonder where his heart lies. I think the reasons and motivation for doing anything are often multiple, as I think in this case.

    Suda, I wonder if Bachchan has a genuine love for UP. He may have ofcourse, I don’t know why I doubt it!

    akp, I think you are on the wrong post. 🙂 Your comment would be right here.

    Bharath, these small outfits always grow by making mountains out of molehills!

  8. Joss permalink
    April 9, 2008 4:18 pm

    I agree that Amitabh Bachchan is a national and global celebrity and does not belong to any where. People from all over India and the world have supported him and provided him with the means to make these munificent gestures. He has appeal for so many disparate people because he is not parochial, and so should not be expected to confine his interests to his home state. It is partly NRI’s money he is thinking of spending. He would be justified in investing in a school for underprivileged children in the United States even!

  9. April 9, 2008 4:51 pm

    i think it was saamna editor/columnist not thackarey who made that remark was it him ? i dont read saamna
    Yeah old sailor – i agree

  10. vish permalink
    April 9, 2008 5:17 pm

    “the foolish MNS party should have asked the corporates world to take in more marathis or provide reservation,…” 🙂

  11. April 9, 2008 5:19 pm

    Joss, you are right.
    (I commented abve as perspectiveofsuda):

    Its not a good approach for a national celebrity like Amitabh to do something ONLY for HIS HOME STATE. A person like him should START SOCIAL WORK AT HOME STATE and continue it all over India. Restricting it to only one state do not suit him in any way.

  12. April 9, 2008 9:10 pm

    isn’t rajini from karanataka? hmmm….i donno where the country is going…politicians and stars…well i think people are losing their own identity…

  13. April 9, 2008 11:21 pm

    One has to be careful what actions you take once you are in the public eye. You must be careful who you endorse, who you criticise and what promises you make, lest it come back to bite you…

    And how have you been my pretty Hindustani? I am working on a trip for July…we’ll see…

  14. May 30, 2008 9:48 am

    this is very good appel; to new genration….

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