Money behind Bachchan-Gandhi fallout?
Why did Amitabh Bachchan fall out with the Gandhi family?
Liz Mathew, IANS
The answer probably lies in the fact that when the Bachchans, India's most celebrated showbiz family, were in a financial crisis following the collapse of his company ABCL, the Gandhis could not help them out and Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh did.
The question that had haunted people for more than a decade came into the open in outbursts of Jaya Bachchan, his wife and Samajwadi Party MP, and ripostes from Rahul Gandhi, MP and son of Rajiv Gandhi, the assassinated former prime minister.
Jaya Bachchan, while addressing an election rally in Uttar Pradesh ahead of Wednesday's bye-elections, said in an oblique reference to the Gandhis that those who brought them into politics had left them "midway".
She also praised Amar Singh for the help and support he extended to her family when it was in a crisis.
The Bachchan and Gandhi families were very close and it was Rajiv Gandhi who brought Amitabh Bachchan into politics and made him an MP in 1984, a fact that Bachchan has publicly admitted.
However, there was a falling out between the families after the Bofors corruption scandal erupted and the break was final after Rajiv's assassination in 1991.
"Rajiv helped them (Bachchans) when V.P. Singh (who also fell out with Rajiv Gandhi) went after him for alleged foreign exchange violations and for having illegal Swiss bank accounts (related to the Bofors scandal). He (Amitabh Bachchan) formed his business corporation only after he got out of all these troubles," a close associate of the Gandhi family who did not wish to be identified pointed out.
"But it's true that when Bachchan was in financial trouble, the Gandhis could not help him. If Bachchan expected the Gandhis to pull him out of that, it was simply beyond their wherewithal," the associate told IANS.
"Only Amar Singh (Samajwadi party leader) could help him and now Jaya is showing her gratitude towards him (by being a party MP)," he added.
"It is very clear that compulsions of Uttar Pradesh politics have forced her to make appropriate noise in the state," the source said.
Sonia's son and MP Rahul Gandhi Monday defended his family from the insinuations made by Jaya Bachchan, saying the family had not deceived anyone.
"Disturbed at the comments that have come from a once-close personal friend, Sonia Gandhi felt disappointed and offended," said the associate, who is very close to the Gandhi household.
Some pro-Congress sources said Sonia Gandhi felt that it was the Bachchans who abandoned her when she and her family were in distress after the assassination of her husband and former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1991.
"The Gandhi family always stood by those who were loyal to it," said the source, evidently speaking on the authority of Sonia Gandhi, citing instances where those loyal to the family have been traditionally accommodated or their families helped.
In an interview to Aaj Tak in April this year, Bachchan had said the Gandhi family had "closed the door" on him and the onus of taking this relationship further rested with that family.
"There are personal reasons (for the break in relations)," he told his interviewer. Asked if he would like to meet Congress president Sonia Gandhi, the film actor had said, "For what? When the doors have been closed."
Also, in a candid admission that he was a failure in politics, he said it was because he did not have the qualifications of a successful politician.