The Samajwadi Party state unit has criticised the recent patch-up between Bollywood mega-star Amitabh Bachchan and Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray here on Wednesday.
"Is this Amitabh Bachchan's friendship with Raj Thackeray or treachery with North Indians?" screamed a banner put up by SP.
Samajwadi Party's state chief and legislator Abu Asim Azmi said it was surprising that Bachchan again befriends Raj Thackeray, who through his MNS has made north Indians' life miserable in the state.
"MNS has not changed its attitude towards north Indians. It protested against his movies because he is a migrant... Even his home was stoned... Despite all these, if Bachchan becomes friends with Raj Thackeray, it is nothing short of treason with north Indians and migrants," Azmi said.
He said the SP had always supported Bachchan in the past, but this newfound rapport between him and the MNS smacks of vested interests - "We deplore it," he added.
He, however, added that if the MNS had changed its policies towards the Hindi-speaking people, north Indians and migrants, nobody would have objected to the developments.
Last Monday, Bachchan was invited as the chief guest for the MNS Chitrapat Sena's (Association of people in the theatre, film and television industry) seventh anniversary function where he shared the dais with Raj Thackeray after five years.
Burying past bitterness, a relaxed and smiling Thackeray virtually forgave Bachchan who had accepted the brand ambassadorship of Uttar Pradesh in 2008, which started the fracas.
Going a step further to cement the friendship, Thackeray even bowed to touch Bachchan's feet, who in turn hugged him as the gathering roared its approval.
"I have always felt that in the past 100 years, there has not been an actor as big as Bachchan. He is the brand ambassador of the whole nation, and not just any state," Thackeray said, paying rich compliments to the smiling actor.
He urged the people "to forget" whatever happened in the past and "it has been immersed in the Ganga river" amidst a loud round of applause.
Thackeray said people like Amitabh Bachchan and Lata Mangeshkar are sent by god and cannot be restricted to any particular region as they belong to everybody.
Reciprocating warmly, Bachchan lauded the MNS Chitrapat Sena for espousing the cause of the people behind the screen and for standing in their support by arranging insurance facilities.
"Not many are aware that those behind the scenes in the making of a movie need to be recognized... And in the celluloid world, it is important that the financial future of these invisible artistes is secured," Bachchan said, rounding off his speech with a recital from his father, Harivansh Rai Bachchan's poem, "Agneepath".