The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Anything for pal, but not politics
- Why Amar Singh has to clarify after threat to unleash Amit on Congress

It’s now known that there’s a limit to what Amitabh Bachchan will do even for Amar Singh.

Bachchan will not wade into politics for him, he has made that clear, though his wife Jaya has become a Rajya Sabha MP with Amar’s Samajwadi Party’s support.

The star may have more reasons than one to shun an active role in politics, but one overwhelming influence is his ailing mother, Teji — possibly the last existing link with the Nehru-Gandhis — according to sources close to the Bachchan family.

Bachchan is so particular about sending across the message that he wants to keep his hands off politics, after having once fought an election and become an MP for friend Rajiv Gandhi’s Congress, that Amar — almost a shadow of the actor — had to issue a public clarification to a statement.

The Samajwadi general secretary said in Mumbai earlier this week that the Congress-led government should not “torture” Bachchan and his family “to such an extent to force the party to use him in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections”, due next year.

“Torture” was a reference to tax notices sent to the 64-year-old star.

A day later, Amar scrambled to set the record straight — it’s not known if he had been asked to do so.

“I did not say he will enter politics. I said that if you continuously keep humiliating someone, he would be compelled to join politics,” he said in Delhi.

Between Amar’s first and second comment, the actor himself told TV channels which enquired that he harboured no political intentions.

Speaking after shooting for a music video for his forthcoming film Baabul, Bachchan said: “I don’t know politics…. I am never going to do politics again.”

The sources said the categorical “no” sprang from a background Bachchan and Sonia Gandhi might be reluctant to talk about now. His 88-year-old mother, shuttling in and out of hospital, would not wish him to return to politics and that too against Sonia.

On the contrary, because of her long association with Indira Gandhi and then with Sonia, Teji Bachchan, whom the Congress president has spoken of as her second mother, would have wanted the relations between the two families to get back on old terms.

The family sources said Teji was very good to Sonia who hasn’t forgotten the days she spent in February 1968 in New Delhi’s 13 Willingdon Crescent, the Bachchan home at that time, before her marriage to Rajiv.

At the wedding, Harivansh Rai and Teji sang songs and Amitabh (yet to become a star) played on the creations of his poet father, written especially for the occasion.

Sonia’s mother had come over from Italy for the wedding, but it was Teji who played the role of the mother in the rituals of a Hindu marriage ceremony. It is perhaps memories of those days that prompt Sonia to continue to tie the rakhi on Ajitabh, the actor’s brother, and always call him on his birthdays.

Sonia had a compassionate guide in Teji as she acclimatised with the Indian way of life. She did not know how to cook Indian food and it was Teji who taught her the recipes and advised her on Indian culture. When she was pregnant with Rahul, she became her adviser again.

During the emergency, when the Nehru-Gandhis were living at 12 Willingdon Crescent and the Bachchans were next door, Sonia had made a pathway between the two bungalows to make it easy for her and Teji to visit each other.

So when Amitabh said (again on TV), “I don’t know politics and I am not interested,” Amar would have learnt not to mention the subject again, not even in his actor-friend’s absence.

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