Joined: 21 June 2005
|Jaya Bachchan's disqualification from the Rajya Sabha signals a battle royale between the Congress-led central government and the Samajwadi Party-led Uttar Pradesh government that has its roots in the actress-wife of megastar Amitabh Bachchan badmouthing the Gandhi family a year ago.|
High-profile Samajwadi Party general secretary Amar Singh and Uttar Pradesh's Parliamentary Affairs and Urban Development Minister Mohammed Azam Khan may well be the next "targets", well placed sources in Lucknow and the national capital told IANS.
While Singh is chairman of the Uttar Pradesh Development Council, Khan has been chairman of the Uttar Pradesh Jal Nigam. If the chairmanship of the Uttar Pradesh Film Development Board - that Jaya Bachchan holds - is an office of profit as per the legal advice secured by President APJ Abdul Kalam, these two offices also fall in the same category, the sources said.
It all began with sections of media questioning Khan's being a minister while continuing to head the Jal Nigam. Madan Mohan Shukla, a local Congress leader who lost to Jaya, grabbed the idea and filed a petition before the Election Commission. Obviously, someone in the Congress national leadership was monitoring the whole thing.
The Gandhis and the Bachchans have been family friends from the Nehru days when Amitabh's parents, Harivanshrai and mother Teji, were friends of Jawaharlal Nehru. It was this friendship that brought Amitabh to the Lok Sabha from Allahabad, which is also the Nehru-Gandhi family's hometown. But Amitabh lost interest in the "cess pool" called politics and quit.
The two families have fallen apart, but for reasons best known to her, Jaya had been openly critical of the Gandhis, attacking the family for trying to perpetuate "dynastic rule". She became strident in her criticism after becoming a Rajya Sabha member and this is being attributed to her proximity to Amar Singh who has no love lost for Congress president Sonia Gandhi.
Political circles say it is this "Amar effect" that may have done in the Bachchans. Jaya's outburst against the "dynasty" became more strident a year ago, even as her son Abhishek Bachchan soared to stardom with the success of his film "Bunty Aur Babli".
Sensing trouble, Amitabh tried to do some damage control, saying he meant no ill-will for the Gandhis and that after all, he was a "praja" (commoner) and the Gandhis were the "raja" (the rulers).
Efforts at a patch-up were also made by Amitabh's younger brother Ajitabh, since the latter's wife Ramola, a London-based socialite, has maintained links with the Gandhi family. However, that the two brothers have not been on good terms is well known. Ajitabh visited his elder brother in the hospital during the actor's recent sickness. But nothing much is known if the Gandhi-Bachchan tiff was discussed.
It was also the same period when Amitabh alleged that tax sleuths had harassed him and that he had to write out a fat cheque against the dues even as he was being taken on a stretcher for surgery in Mumbai. The government has, of course, denied this. All through, Amar Singh was seen standing by Amitabh.
Congress party men, of course, deny any link between the Jaya outburst and the apparent retaliation. They cite the law and the stand taken by two constitutional authorities, the Election Commission and none less than the president himself.
But there has been little love lost between the Congress and the Samajwadi Party. Action may also be taken against Uttar Pradesh minister Yaqoob Qureshi who, at a public rally, called for the assassination of the Danish cartoonist who caricatured Prophet Mohammed. A Meerut court has ordered that a first information report be registered with the police against Qureshi and the matter may soon become a subject of criminal investigation.
Joined: 16 January 2005
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