Congress fires fresh salvo at Amitabh


New Delhi: Putting further pressure on megastar Amitabh Bachchan for accepting Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s offer to be the state’s brand ambassador, the Congress Monday asked him if he endorsed the Bharatiya Janata Party leader’s role in the 2002 “pogrom” or condemned it.

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“Does he (Bachchan) condemn the role of Narendra Modi in the Gujarat pogrom of 2002 or does he endorse it,” Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari asked at a party briefing.

Tewari also said the actor should come out with his views on the “fake encounters” that took place in Gujarat since Modi became the chief minister.

He said if Bachchan was “sensible and right-thinking, he will come out strongly against the riots” that erupted in 2002 after the Godhra train burning.

The Congress attack came after Modi hit out at the party, saying those opposing Bachchan were the “Talibans of Untouchability”.

Earlier Monday, Information and Broadcasting minister Ambika Soni took on Modi for his “Taliban” comment, terming it a “frustrated” outburst after his prolonged questioning by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) over the 2002 riots.

“Modi is feeling very frustrated because for the first time, a chief minister was made to stand before the Special Investigating Team for about 10 hours in a question and answer session,” Soni said on the sidelines of a Congress Seva Dal function here.

Modi should not use the word Taliban in a “light and flippant manner” as those who had lived under the rule of the fundamentalists know what it is like, Soni contended, adding that the chief minister should make statements only after due deliberation.

Modi wrote on his blog that “a great artist with legendary humility and even taller achievements” like Amitabh Bachchan has “chosen to celebrate the glorious heritage of Gujarat while facing a lot of criticism”.

“These people, while brandishing Mahatma Gandhi’s name, are busy creating a new viciousness in the flow of our public life. These ‘Talibans of Untouchability’ have lost all their sensibilities in their pursuit of anti-Gujarat attitudes,” Modi wrote.

Congress leaders in Maharashtra had protested over the presence of Bachchan at the inauguration of the Bandra-Worli Sea link extension last week, saying they were upset over “his association with Modi”.