British rock bank Coldplay’s concert in India on November 19 was caught in a political crossfire Thursday, with the Opposition targeting the BJP government in Maharashtra over the event.
Accusing the BJP of attempting to leverage the event for political gains amid local body polls being held across the state, the Congress approached the Election Commission, demanding that code of conduct restrictions be imposed on the concert.
A delegation led by Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam met the state’s Election Commissioner, Jageshwar Saharia, with the demand that the concert either be postponed or political leaders be disallowed from using the platform to make speeches.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is likely to attend the concert being organised by an international forum, Global Citizen, at the MMRDA ground in Bandra-Kurla Complex.
A press communication issued by Nirupam claimed that the organisers had listed the BJP-led Maharashtra government as a “strategic partner” for the concert. The Congress also objected to the government’s decision to provide a concession in the venue’s rent and a waiver of entertainment duty to the organisers. “This is tantamount to influencing the voters at public expense,” Nirupam said.
While a code of conduct has been imposed across Maharashtra as elections to 212 local bodies are underway, the restrictions are not applicable in Mumbai, where the civic elections are scheduled for early next year.
The Nationalist Congress Party also hit out at the government. “Farmers are committing suicide in the state. There is unemployment. But all the government can think of is doling out concessions to the Coldplay concert,” said NCP’s national spokesperson Nawab Malik.
The government has justified the concessions on the grounds that the revenue from the event would be used for philanthropic activity in the state. “They (the Shiv Sena-BJP) had similarly promoted the Michael Jackson concert in Mumbai in 1996, claiming that it would contribute towards reducing unemployment. And now they are singing the alleviation of poverty theme for the Coldplay concert,” said Malik.