Dancer and activist Mallika Sarabhai has said she was told that actor Amitabh Bachchan had his own personal interests in becoming the brand ambassador for the State of Gujarat.
Speaking at a meet-the-press programme here on Tuesday, Ms. Sarabhai, who was here to perform on the inaugural day of the Malabar Mahotsavam, said Mr. Bachchan had three specific reasons. “I was told by a Gujarat Government official that Mr. Bachchan wanted tax exemption in Gujarat, free land for his film city and a Rajyasabha seat for his wife Jaya Bachchan, who may not be able to represent Uttar Pradesh with the change in political equations there,” she said. “The Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi appointed Mr. Bachchan, who is not a Gujarati, probably because there was nobody worthy enough in the State to be its brand ambassador.”
She said she had a great time contesting the last Lok Sabha polls against L.K. Advani at Gandhinagar. “I could make both Mr. Modi and his Congress rival (Suresh Patil) campaign harder,” she said. “I saw the candidates making a mockery of the modal code of conduct on several occasions, but my complaints were ignored.”
Ms. Sarabhai said art was the greatest tool for social activism.
“From my experience, I have learnt that it is art that could bring about the greatest impact in people’s minds,” she said. “People do not like to be preached, but they would care to watch any programme that would entertain them. With those programmes, we could send our messages to them, as I have often done.”
She said Kerala should seriously look into the issue of its young women being married off to men in Haryana. “There is dire shortage of brides in Haryana because of female foeticide there, so the men come to Kerala and marry a girl, who often would be the wife of three or more men in the family,” she said. “It is slavery. The Kerala women are forced to marry a man who does not speak her language because her family does not have the money to get her a husband in her own State. I do not know why Kerala has copied the dowry system from Northern India.”