The Congress today hit out at the Modi government for having superstar Amitabh Bachchan associated with its two year celebration gala at India Gate lawns on May 28. The Congress questioned how the actor whose name figures in the Panama papers and was ostensibly under probe could share the dias with the Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The frosty relations of the superstar with the Gandhi family is legendary. Expectedly the ruling BJP government defended the choice of the superstar alleging that "it only reflects Congress' mental disability" and that Congress was "jealous" of Bachchan.
Congress Communication chief and spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said, "Would it be fair ? What message would it send to investigating agencies going into siphoning of funds abroad illegally".
Surjewala claimed that Bachchan was hosting the event and with the Prime Minister also present there it would raise several questions, including whether the Modi government had diluted the fight against black money. Surjewala said, "We have no issues with Amitabh Bachchan or Modi doing programs. I am sure Amitabhji will come out clean in the Panama Papers. But would it not send a wrong message to all investigative agencies when a person accused of money laundering will host a program to celebrate two years of Modi government? "
Recalling how the Prime Minister has repeatedly vowed to bring back black money stashed abroad and punish those guilty, the Congress Communication chief said that it was during the poll campaign that BJP leaders had promised to deposit Rs 15 to Rs 20 lakh in the bank account of every individual once black money is brought back.
With the controversy breaking out, Amitabh Bachchan issued a statement, "I am not hosting the show.
I am only doing one segment which is concerned with the Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao initiative, which is very close to my heart."
The BJP government came out in full defence of Bachchan with its senior ministers even joining the chorus. Union Law Minister D V Sadananda Gowda said, the probe into Bachchan's name cropping up in Panama Papers will have no affect if he attends the event to mark two years of Narendra Modi government on Saturday "See, practically, participation of Amitabh Bachchan and the investigation with regards to Panama Papers, certainly, it will not have any connectivity. Investigation will be done by an independent agency, they will take care of things. Adding, "Even today, we have seen so many cases against politicians. Agencies do their duty independently. There is no harm." BJP Spokesperson Shahnawaz Hussain went to the extent of saying the superstar has done a lot of good in films and "people love him more than Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, but this should not be a reason for Congress to be "jealous about".
The government's two year celebratory extravaganza 'Zara Muskura Do' (Smile Please) will have several performances and programmes highlighting its "achievements" including Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, Digital India, Rural Electrification. The programme will be telecast nationally by Doordarshan.