More than Amitabh Bachchan, Panama Papers are a blow to Modi
The shocking revelations, dubbed the “Panama Papers”, by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), have dealt a personal blow to the image of those named in the list, particularly Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan more than anyone else in India, whose name figures prominently in it. The name of his daughter-in-law, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, also finds mention in the list published by The Indian Express.
It has dashed the chances, if any, of Bachchan Senior to be announced as Narendra Modi government’s presidential candidate for next year’s elections.
The timing of the revelations may not be suspect as the documents of Mossack Fonseca, the Panama-headquartered law firm, were first leaked to German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung more than a year ago. Secondly, ICIJ coordinated the investigative effort involving 107 media organisations in 78 countries.
But they have come just when the talk of projecting Bachchan as the presidential candidate was gaining momentum. BJP MP Shatrughan Sinha was the first person to publicly moot Bachchan’s name as the next president of India.
On March 16, he said in Patna, “It will be a matter of pride if Amitabh Bachchan, a cultural icon, is made president of the country… Amitabh Bachchan has achieved many a milestone in cultural and social fields and if he becomes president, it will fetch a good name for the country.”
Last week, former Samajwadi Party leader, Amar Singh, made a major revelation saying he learned that Modi was planning to propose the Bollywood superstar’s name for the next president. Singh said this in an interview on Zee group’s India 24×7 channel. He also revealed that he introduced Big B to Modi, which in connection with Paa movie when the latter was the chief minister of Gujarat.
“After Modi-Bachchan’s meeting for Paa, Narendra Modi had asked Amitabh Bachchan to become brand ambassdoor of Gujarat,” Amar Singh claimed in the interview.Singh and Bachchan were quite close at one point in time. However, they apparently do not enjoy the same proximity. The same is the case with Shatrughan Sinha – he and Bachchan were on friendly terms but later fell apart.
The Panama Papers are bound to severely dent Bachchan’s image, which may prove a hurdle in his way to be nominated by the NDA as their presidential candidate.
But more than Bachchan, the Panama Papers seem to have hit the prime minister. Bachchan is the prime minister’s favourite – as Gujarat chief minister, Modi had appointed the superstar as the state’s brand ambassador.
Similarly, the name of industrialist Gautam Adani’s elder brother Vinod Adani in the Panama Papers is also an indirect blow to Modi. Gautam Adani’s close association with Modi is not hidden from anyone. There are several reports of how the younger Adani brother is seen in most of Modi’s overseas trips.
With Vinod Adani’s name in the list of those who use offshore accounts in tax havens to hide their wealth, evade taxes and launder money, Modi-Gautam association will come under sharper scrutiny of the rivals and the media.
However, Modi should thank providence that the revelation happened when Bachchan’s name as NDA’s presidential nominee had just started doing the rounds. It would certainly have proved highly embarrassing and problematic for the prime minister had the name been finalised and the revelations would have comejust ahead of the presidential elections.