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Congress leader urges Amitabh Bachchan not to promote GST


Sanjay Nirupam believes the raging controversy over the tax may affect Bachchan's image as well.

Mayur Lookhar

Amitabh Bachchan has never shied away from endorsing states or taking up social causes promoted by the government. Now, he has been roped in to promote the goods and services tax (GST) that is scheduled to come into force from 1 July.

The contentious tax has triggered a debate with opposition parties and even business associations having strong reservations against the manner in which it is being rushed into implementation.

Willy-nilly, Bachchan has been dragged into the controversy with Congress politician Sanjay Nirupam urging him not to endorse the new unified indirect taxation system.

Speaking to the Times Now television news channel, Nirupam, Mumbai Congress president, said the strong opposition to GST, especially from the business community, could hurt Bachchan’s image too.

"Amitabh Bachchan is the most popular actor in the country," he said. "We too are among his admirers. It is not necessary that he becomes part of every stupidity of the Bharatiya Janata Party."

Nirupam said the manner and form in which GST was being introduced had led to "great dissatisfaction" in the business class and even institutions like the Associated Chambers of Commerce (Assocham) believe it is being handled wrongly.

"It is possible that GST, which will replace multiple taxes on 1 July, will lead to strong protests and there will be chaos," Nirupam said. "In this situation, the dissatisfaction of businessmen might cast a shadow on Bachchan's image. This is my sincere suggestion. I can’t be ordering him.... But when businessmen across the country are on the streets protesting, the government is not ready to listen to them. At such time, hurting businessmen doesn’t suit him."

Nirupam offered the advice, unsolicited, after the actor accepted the government's request to help promote GST. Bachchan had posted a video on his Twitter handle promoting the new tax.

The actor later defended his decision saying the government had asked him to do this campaign to introduce and explain GST to the masses. 

It is not the first time the opposition has been critical of Bachchan associating himself with state-run campaigns. The actor had endorsed the state of Gujarat when Narendra Modi was its chief minister. Later, when the actor became tourism ambassador of Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray questioned why he was endorsing another state while working and residing in Maharashtra.