Mumbai, Apr 5: Potshots by the Maharashtra political class on film star Amitabh Bachchan show no signs of abating.
It was Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) leader Raj Thackeray not too long ago, and on Saturday, it was the turn of the Shiv Sena to lampoon Bachchan over his "contributions" to Maharashtra. In an article appearing in the Shiv Sena mouthpiece, Samana, the party said: "Several actors, who live in Mumbai achieve fame and glory. But when it comes to taking a firm stand on the issue of Marathi or regional pride, many of them including film star Amitabh Bachchan backtrack."
"But Rajnikant is one of the rare persons who has been true to the culture of Maharashtra. This is because he has taken the side of the state which has made him big," the article said.
The reference points to the fact that Rajnikant was born in Maharashtra, grew up in Karnataka but became a superstar in Tamil Nadu.
The article headline said Rajnikant Khalya Meethala Jaagla (Rajnikant Has Been Loyal). The report also questioned how many actors in Mumbai would have the guts to agitate for a cause of Mumbai or regional pride.
It maybe recalled that in February, Bachchan's house in Mumbai's Juhu area "Prateeksha" was attacked by two motor-cycle borne youths. They allegedly threw glass bottles at the gate of the Bachchan residence, days after the Maharashtra Navanirman Sena (MNS) charged the superstar with neglecting Maharashtra. Police had then denied the incident, but mediamen deployed outside the Bachchan bungalow said they heard verbal abuses being hurled by the duo and also saw a bottle being thrown by them.
MNS chief Raj Thackeray had attacked Bachchan for preferring Uttar Pradesh over Maharashtra for opening a girls' college in his daughter-in-law Aishwariya Rai Bachchan's name.
Reacting to the charge, Bachchan had last month said: "The Indian Constitution has given me the right to live anywhere in the country. Everybody has a right to the freedom of speech, but I only follow the law of the land. My responsibility is to follow the law of the country, follow the Constitution of this country and follow my conscience therefore I will respect the court, the Constitution and will respect my conscience and beyond this there is no place for anything else."
Raj Thackeray's diatribe against North Indians, and particularly those residing in Maharashtra, invited the ire of the Supreme Court and politicians across party lines. The diatribe was apparently aimed at recapturing his political base in Maharashtra from the rival Shiv Sena.