Mumbai, (IANS) Veteran film actor Rishi Kapoor on Wednesday sparked off a Congress outcry after he launched a scathing attack against the grand old party of India for naming Indian assets and government projects after its icons from the Nehru-Gandhi family.
In a series of tweets, Rishi Kapoor urged the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government to re-name the assets that the Congress has named after the Gandhis — Indira and Rajiv.
“We must name important assets of the country (after those) who have contributed to society. Har cheez Gandhi ke naam? (Everything is in the name of the Gandhis?) I don’t agree. Sochna log! (Think people!),” Rishi Kapoor tweeted.
“Change Gandhi family assets named by (the) Congress. Bandra/Worli Sea Link to Lata Mangeshkar or J.R.D. Tata Link road. Baap ka maal samajh rakha tha.”
He also questioned why Delhi’s airport was named Indira Gandhi International Airport. “Why not Mahatma Gandhi or Bhagat Singh, Ambedkar or on my name Rishi Kapoor. As superficial.”
The Bollywood actor apparently took a thread from Minister of State for External Affairs V.K. Singh’s demand on Tuesday that New Delhi’s Akbar Road, where the Congress headquarters is located, be renamed after Maharana Pratap.
“If (names of) roads in Delhi can be changed, why not Congress assets/property ke naam? Was in Chandigarh, wahan bhi Rajeev Gandhi assets. Socho! Why,” the actor said.
The 63-year-old actor demanded that “Film City (in Mumbai) should be named (after) Dilip Kumar, Dev Anand, Ashok Kumar ya Amitabh Bachchan? Rajeev Gandhi udyog kya hota hai?”
The comments sparked off a furore in the Congress, with Gandhi loyalists slamming the actor.
Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said the actor had no “role to play in the public life”.
“Last time I heard of him was in the movie ‘Bobby’. It is not worth to comment on,” Tewari told reporters in Delhi.
Congress leader Sanjay Nirupam in Mumbai said that Rishi Kapoor needed to learn history as he apparently had failed to realize the contributions the Gandhi family had made to build the nation.
He said he had sent Rishi Kapoor a list of Indian airports that have been named after Maharana Pratap, Shivaji Maharaj and Lal Bahadur Shastri.
“There are some who open their mouth for the sake of power and such people have a narrow mindset,” Nirupam added.
Congress spokesperson P. C. Chacko didn’t name the actor but said people were targeting the Gandhis “to get into the good books” of the ruling BJP.
“They want to please somebody in power. They can have it but not at the expense of the Congress. We don’t take it seriously and it is not worth any comments at all,” Chacko said in Delhi.
Rishi Kapoor said his father Raj Kapoor, a legendary Indian showman, has made the country proud more than “what has been perceived by politics”.
The actor’s view was supported by his Bollywood colleague Anupam Kher, known for airing his views rather brazenly. He stressed the importance of recognising “legends” from other fields like the arts, cricket and cinema.
Anupam Kher lauded the Narendra Modi government, saying that they don’t ‘have any yojna (scheme) after any political leaders”.
“Rishi Kapoor is a very forthright person. He has not necessarily said all the right things but why should we attribute a reason behind it and make it less important by immediately coming to a conclusion that this is a political statement. It is not a political statement.”