Pics by Rons Bantwal
Daijiworld Media Network
Mumbai, Mar 25: Actor Amitabh Bachchan’s presence at the inauguration of the second carriageway of the Bandra-Worli sealink has triggered a fresh row between the ruling allies — Congress and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).
The angry Congressmen promptly complained to the party chief Sonia Gandhi, who has reportedly sought explanation from Chavan.Senior Congress leaders objected to the actor sharing the dais with Chief Minister Ashok Chavan at Wednesday’s function. Some Congressmen boycotted the function.
The angry Congressmen promptly complained to the party chief Sonia Gandhi, who has reportedly sought explanation from Chavan.
Congressmen had a reason to do so because the link is named after the late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Sonia had thrown the first carriageway open to public last year. Amitabh had developed differences with his childhood friend Rajiv over 20 years ago. After the split, Amitabh and his wife Jaya got associated with the Samajwadi Party and have been working against the Congress.
Chavan told media that he did not know the actor would be there. “Bachchan’s name was not there in the invitation (circulated by the organisers). I don’t know what a person, who is brand ambassador of neighbouring Gujarat, was doing at the ceremony,” Chavan said.
Hindustan Construction Company (HCC), the private developer that built the sealink along with the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation, claimed that the actor had been invited by the NCP to add glamour to the event. “NCP’s other choice was (cricketer) Sachin Tendulkar,” said a HCC official requesting anonymity.
Megastar Amitabh Bachchan on Thursday said the controversy over his presence at a function in Mumbai for the inauguration of the second phase of the Bandra-Worli sea link has been "manufactured".
"A fresh controversy has been rapidly manufactured on my involvement... The media has been hounding me since the event at the sea link has got over, through incessant SMSes and the electronic (media) has followed me even to the theatre where we were seeing Arshad's film," Bachchan wrote in a midnight post on his blog. Actor Arshad Warsi's film 'Hum Tum Aur Ghost' will be released this week.
Resentment brewed in a section of Mumbai Congress over the invite to Bachchan to the function where chief minister Ashok Chavan inaugurated the sea link on Wednesday.
Chavan himself indicated the unhappiness in the party over the invite to Bachchan, a friend-turned-foe of Congress, and exclusion of some party leaders from the function organized by the PWD ministry headed by Congress' coalition partner NCP, which justified the presence of the actor.
Bachchan said he would comment on the controversy later. "But of that (sic) some other time and space," he wrote.
A section of Congress is reportedly unhappy since Bachchan is the brand ambassador of BJP-ruled Gujarat and his relationship with the Gandhi family has been strained.
NCP controls the Maharashtra state road development corporation (MSRDC), the implementing agency of the sea link.
Several Congress leaders said they were not aware that Bachchan would be present at the function. The actor's name was not there on the invitation card, they said.
Asked if it was a mistake to invite him to a function where Bachchan was also invited, the chief minister on Wednesday said, "As it was a government function, adequate care should have been taken about the invitations being sent".
However, public undertakings minister Jaidutt Kshirsagar, who is also MSRDC chairman, justified the decision to invite Bachchan because he was an "icon".
"Bachchan and Sachin Tendulkar are icons and I thought it fit that their presence was required at the inauguration of this iconic bridge," he said.
The Mumbai Congress is understood to have conveyed its unhappiness to the party high command about the presence of Bachchan at the function.
Writing about Wednesday's function, Big B said, "The Rajiv Gandhi Sagari Setu or the Bandra Worli Sea Link was opening up the remaining four tracks on this massive and symbolic structure that connects two regions of the suburb over the sea. I had been invited by the minister in the government to attend and so I went along."
The actor said the ceremony conducted on the road over the bridge was "short" and "sweet". "All the dignitaries were invited to cut the ribbon a little further down the track by riding on antique, and old model cars which was an absolute delight."
The first four lanes of the sea link, a cable-supported bridge which links suburban Bandra with Worli and central Mumbai, were dedicated to people on June 20, 2009 by Congress president and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi.