The politics of the Thackerays and Amitabh Bachchan
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 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.”
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