AMID THE controversy over actor Aamir Khan being removed as the brand ambassador of the Incredible India campaign, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is learnt to have sought a report from the tourism ministry.
Sources said Nripendra Mishra, Principal Secretary to the PM, called up Tourism Minister Mahesh Sharma on Thursday, and asked him to provide the chronology of the campaign and the facts of the contract with the Bollywood superstar.
Mishra asked for the report to be submitted the same day, they said. When contacted, ministry officials declined to confirm whether the report had been dispatched or not.
Clarifying his ministry’s stand on Wednesday, Sharma said the contract with advertising agency McCann Worldgroup for the campaign had expired. “Our agreement was with a media agency, namely McCann. That was for a particular work… They have completed that project. Hence, that contract is now over,” he said.
The move had sparked speculation that it was in response to the actor’s remarks on “growing intolerance” during the Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Awards function last November.
Meanwhile, sources said Khan had not signed any contract, with either the ministry or with McCann Worldwide. “It was an honorary job. He was doing it pro bono. There was no paperwork at all with the government or the agency,” they said.
The actor also confirmed this in a statement released today. “It is the prerogative of the government to decide whether they need a brand ambassador for any campaign, and if so, who that ambassador should be… I respect the decision of the government to discontinue with my services,” PTI quoted him as saying.
“I was happy to be of service to my country, and will always be available for it. I would like to clarify that all public service films I have done till date have been free of any cost to me. It is always an honour for me to be of service to my country, and this is how it will always be,” said the statement.
Sources said Aamir’s removal would hinder the Incredible India campaign as they would not be able to air the four television commercials on ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’ any more.
“The plan was to run these commercials at least for the next three years as money and time had been spent on making them,” they said. The new edition was launched last June to spread awareness about ways to extend hospitality to tourists by adopting an honest and helpful attitude, as well as maintaining cleanliness and hygiene.