Mumbai: The opposition Congress-NCP on Thursday attacked the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance for waiver of entertainment tax and rentals to the Global Citizen Festival India scheduled for November 19 here.
The Congress went a step further and complained to the State Election Commission (SEC) demanding that the event -- in which the Maharashtra government is a 'strategic partner' -- be postponed until after the ongoing civic elections process in the state.
The star-studded event, which is reported to be a total sellout, will feature performances by Jay Z and a host of Bollywood celebrities including Aamir Khan, A.R. Rahman, Arjun Kapoor, Amitabh Bachchan, Farhan Akhtar, Kareena Kapoor-Khan, Katrina Kaif, Malaika Arora-Khan, Ranveer Singh, Sachin Tendulkar, Shah Rukh Khan, Shraddha Kapoor, Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, Vijender Singh and many others.
Mumbai Congress President Sanjay Nirupam on Thursday shot off a letter to State Election Commissioner J.S. Saharia, pointing out that top politicians will participate in the event organised by the Global Citizen India as part of its inaugural Global Citizen Festival.
"The state government has granted the organisers 75 per cent concession on the rent for the MMRDA Ground, Bandra East, and waived off entertainment tax for the event. This is a waste of public money and such concessions are not granted to other organisations," Nirupam said in the letter.
Morevoer, he pointed out, organising entertainment shows at public expense is tantamount to influencing the voters and the platform would be exploited politically in the ongoing civic elections season.organising entertainment shows at public expense is tantamount to influencing the voters and the platform would be exploited politically in the ongoing civic elections season.
Nirupam urged Saharia to probe how the concert was granted so many concessions during the election season and that the show must be brought under the ambit of Election Commission code of conduct.
The Congress demanded that either the concert be postponed until after the elections, or it should be conducted in a simple manner without the presence of any political leader on the stage.
Interestingly, Nirupam compared the upcoming event to the famous Michael Jackson concert held in Mumbai in 1996, organised during the first Shiv Sena-BJP government, which had kicked up a huge controversy.
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) state spokesperson Nawab Malik lashed out at the concert, questioning the need to bring the rock band to Maharashtra in the first place.
"Farmers are committing suicide here, there are issues of unemployment and other matters. Amid all this, they are bringing Coldplay -- for what? Will Coldplay remove unemployment like the Michael Jackson show?" Malik told newspersons sarcastically.
Here's what 'Global Citizen India' said on the issue, ''As one of the fastest growing youth movements in India, Global Citizen is delighted to see such overwhelming support for our gender equality, education and clean water and sanitation campaigns.
We are a non-partisan movement making efforts to create long term change and work towards getting India to take on a leadership role in achieving the end of extreme poverty. We are deeply disappointed that this work is being caught in the middle of politics as usual. Our platform aims to unify and bring together all stakeholders, catalysing the youth using popular culture, to ensure India takes on a leadership role in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Minister Suresh Prabhu, CM Chandrababu Naidu, Chief Minister P Vijayan, Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, Congress Leader Smt. Meira Kumar, MP Jairam Ramesh, MP Poonam Mahajan, Shiv Sena Youth Wing Chief Aditya Thackeray, Former MEA Salman Khurshid, Congress Leader Milind Deora, are some of the leaders who Global Citizens have called on, whose achievements have been highlighted, and who have made commitments in response to the voice of young India and who have championed issues.
We are working with many more leaders across the spectrum to get them to make commitments and join this movement. We look forward to welcoming a number of them at the Global Citizen India Festival on November 19th.''