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Was It Brave Of The Big B To Keep Away From The Ballyhoo Of The Election Scenario Once Again?

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Ali Peter John

Amitabh Bachchan like his father, Dr Harivanshrai Bachchan was interested in whatever happened in the name of politics in the country, but like his father, he never took active part in the way politics was practised. He was not apolitical, but was interested in politics only as any other Indian citizen would….

But, all this had to change in 1984(only two years after he nearly died in that near fatal accident in the sets of Manmohan Desai’s“Coolie”). It was in 1984 that there were the massive Sikh riots allover the country, which had a very cruel ending with the assassination of Mrs Indira Gandhi.

The Congress Party which had some big and powerful leaders had to take a very quick decision before things could get worse, and Rajiv Gandhi who was an ordinary commercial pilot of the Indian Airlines was forced by circumstances to take the oath as the Prime Minister of India.

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The very next elections were fought under the leadership of Mr Rajiv Gandhi. He made a number of changes, but the biggest decision he took which was criticised by his own party (not openly) and from all fields of life, was to field three big stars to contest the elections from three major constituencies. Amitabh Bachchan who was at the very height of his career and who was a very close and childhood friend of Rajiv was asked to contest from Allahabad against a very popular and powerful leader called H.N Bahuguna, who was also the Chief Minster of Uttar Pradesh for a term.

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Amitabh was a little reluctant and I remember that morning in Versova where he was shooting in one of the bungalows used regularly for shootings those days, Captain’s Bungalow. I had heard rumours about his joining politics and contesting elections from Allahabad. I rushed to the bungalow. He was his usual self and was involved in the shooting. I had to ask him the question directly as my editor wanted to know the truth as soon as possible. So, I asked him if he was a candidate of the Congress Party from Allahabad and he smiled and dismissed my question as a rumour. I took him seriously and reached office around 2:30 pm and matters had taken such a rapid turn that I found it difficult to find sense. Amitabh had already reached Allahabad and filled his nomination papers….

He had a hectic campaign and it was a foregone conclusion that he would win, but no one could imagine that he could get the highest number of votes any other candidate in the country had. He made the giant of a politician, Bahuguna bite the dust and lose his deposit which ruined his political career and also ruined his health and he died a short time after he lost to Amitabh in such a humiliating manner.

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It is while the election fever is at its peak now that I remember the incident between Amitabh and Rahul Gandhi, the now President of the Congress Party. Rajiv Gandhi had been killed in a live bomb in Sriperumbudur and Rahul who was just a child was abroad. Someone had to bring him home for the funeral of his father. Amitabh volunteered. He was on a flight to Bombay when one of the most famous photographers in the world who was on the same flight did not want to lose the chance of a lifetime to shoot what could have been a very exclusive photograph. He sought special permission from the pilot and as he was getting ready to shoot the photograph of his lifetime, Amitabh covered the little Rahul and politely told the photographer,“won’t you allow the child to have his own moment of grief”? That one question silenced the photographer and made him pack his equipment and go back to his seat….

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Amitabh was still getting to know the hand of politics, when he read shocked to see his name, his brother, Ajitabh’s name and Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s name involved in what was called the“Bofors Gun Scam”Amitabh instantly quit as a Member of Parliament and from politics, generally, making that famous sentence, “the cesspool of politics”.

The“Gun”kept following him and he kept trying to keep his name clear from the scam. But his moment of reckoning came when his old father, Dr Harivanshrai Bachchan who was silently watching and listening to all that was happening called Amitabh to his room in“Prateeksha”and quietly asked him,“kya yehi sab jo mai sunn raha hoon, sach hai, Munna”? That was the moment Amitabh decided that he would never step into his father’s room till he was cleared of all the charges leveled against him.

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He moved every source that had the power to clear him and first succeeded when his name was cleared by the Swedish police chief Sten Lindstrom and more importantly when he was cleared by the World Court. He returned home one early morning to see a huge crowd of admirers, headed by the late Yash Johar and his then favourite director, Mukul. S. Anand and thus writer who was following the story very closely. From the Airport, Amitabh and his wife Jaya drove straight to “Prateeksha”and Amitabh alone tippoed his way to the room of his father, touched his feet and the father and son embraced each other when Amitabh have him fill story of his being cleared of the Bofor’s scandal. It was one of the greatest victories for the Bachchan family and Amitabh’s decision to keep away from politics grew more determined….

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Politics and politicians, however did not leave him for quite some time. He had become a good friend of Amar Singh who was an important leader of the Samajwadi Party and is said to have played a vital role in getting out Amitabh from all his major financial problems, especially after his newly formed company,ABCL collapsed and there were stories about his having to mortgage“Prateeksha”. Amitabh could have joined the Samajwadi Party to show his gratitude to Amar Singh and Mulayam Singh. He played his part without joining the Party, but Jaya joined and has now been a member of the Rajya Sabha since the last two terms..

Amitabh has continued to keep his distance from politics, but in his position, he cannot be away from the leaders of the ruling party and so he helps in campaigning for various issues and plans of the Modi government , but he has not shown any inclination to be a part of the party and taking up a place of eminence in the Party seems to be out of the question….

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And the way Amitabh is going to be busy as an actor at least for the next four or five years, the question of his joining our even being associated with politics apparently doesn’t seem to arise.

But, at the moment, just five days before the outcome of the just held elections everything seems to be one big IF. And I soon remember that morning at Captain’s Bungalow, when at 10:30 am, he had flatly denied his having anything to do with politics and at 2:30 pm when he was the eye-catching and mind-blowing candidate of the Congress Party for the elections to the Lok Sabha.

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Tags: Bollywood, Bollywood News, Bollywood Updates, Television, Telly News, Amitabh Bachchan, Election Scenario