Narendra Modi calls Big B's critics Taliban

Narendra Modi calls Big B`s critics TalibanThe Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Sunday accused the Congress of being "fascist" and "practising untouchability" with Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan because of his family differences with one "family of the party".

In hard-hitting remarks, party spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said the Congress has increasingly shown signs of frustration "that each one of its attempts to tarnish opposition leaders was failing."

"It is unabashed by practising untouchability, which can only come out of a fascist character. The way in which a well-known artist belonging to an eminent and scholarly family is being targeted is revealing.

Just because Shri Amitabh Bachchan's family has differences with one Congress family, the entire party and even the governments in states where they are in power are keen not even to be seen on one platform with him, " she said.

Though Sitharaman did not name the Congress family, the reference was to the Gandhi family, with whom the Bachchans were once close.

She said not only had the famous actor been targeted by the Congress but posters of his son Abhishek were removed from an Earth Hour function attended by Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit. "The Delhi chief minister called off an invitation extended to the son of the artist, " she alleged.

Seeking to draw comparison's with the Emergency, the spokesperson said: "the country has not forgotten the way in which eminent playback singer Kishore Kumar was targeted".

"All India Radio banned his songs for the entire year, during which the dictatorship under the Emergency held sway."

Referring to Congress expressing reservations over Bachchan's presence at the Mumbai-Worli Sea Link extension inauguration, she said the link belonged to the people of India and not to the Congress party.

Asked about the relationship between the BJP and Bachchan, she said: "We respect him as an artist".

On party leader V.K. Malhotra writing a letter to Indian Olympic Association president Suresh Kalmadi suggesting that Amitabh Bachchan should be made brand ambassador for the commonwealth Games, Sitharaman said the government should take the proposal seriously.

She said Bachchan's appeal cuts across all ages and he will be a very good brand ambassador for the games.

Bachchan was recently embroiled in a controversy when he attended the inauguration of the Bandra-Worli Sea Link's extension. Some Congress leaders protested over his having accepted the offer of Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi to be the brand ambassador for the state.

Lashing out at those objecting to Bollywood megastar Amitabh Bachchan's presence at a government function in Mumbai, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi has dubbed them as "Talibans of untouchability".

Writing on his blog, Modi described 67-year-old Bachchan as a great artist with legendary humility and even taller achievements who has chosen to celebrate the glorious heritage of Gujarat even while facing a lot of criticism from many quarters. "This is inspiring", he said on Sunday.

Modi said the anti-Gujarat game plan behind the opposition and the controversy over senior Bachchan stood exposed in broad daylight now.

"These 'Talibans of Untouchability' have lost all their sensibilities in their pursuit of anti-Gujarat attitudes.

"They may well in future tell us not to eat even salt. They may even ban the eating of Amul butter and milk and order our young people not to wear denim jeans! And guess why? Because Gujarat produces these things," he said.

"Friends, my heart is still unwilling to believe that these Talibans are unaware of the damage they are causing to this nation and to our society," said Modi.

The Bollywood star also posted scanned copies of the official invite he received for the event on his blog, after Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan denied that he had invited the superstar. Bachchan said he was invited by a minister.

Chavan, who was to attend a Marathi literary conference in Pune, changed his programme and visited it a day earlier reportedly to avoid the actor, Bachchan said in his blog.

Bachchan in his blog Sunday also said that his actor-son, who was appointed brand ambassador by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) for Earth Hour, was dropped at the last minute and even his photo was not shown.