A day after Bollywood superstar Aamir Khan's contract as the brand ambassador for Incredible India expired, Amitabh Bachchan's name was finalised to replace him, CNN-IBN reported.
Reacting to the decision to terminate his contract, Aamir Khan said that it was 'an honour and a pleasure' to be the Brand Ambassador for the Incredible India campaign for the past ten years
"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 all been free of any cost to me," Aamir said.
He further said, "It is always an honour for me to be of service of my country, and this is how it will always be. 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. I am sure they will take all appropriate steps to do what is best for the country. Whether I am brand ambassador or not, India will remain Incredible, and that's the way it should be.
Aamir's statement comes a day after his contract as the brand ambassador for Incredible India expired. Subsequent to the announcement, media went on a speculative spree on who could replace him.
Earlier, CNN-IBN quoted sources as saying that the ministry wants a woman to be the new face of the campaign. Actors Deepika Padukone and Priyanka Chopra are being considered by the government, the channel reported. Times Now also pitched in and reported that actor Akshay Kumar was also in the race.
Earlier, Tourism Minister Mahesh Sharma had said, "Our contract was with the McCann Worldwide agency for 'Atithi Devo Bhava' campaign. The agency had hired Aamir for the job. Now the contract with the agency is over. Ministry has not hired Aamir... It was the agency which has hired him. Since the contract with the agency is no more, automatically the arrangement with the actor no longer exists."
Asked specifically whether Aamir is still tourism ministry's brand ambassador, the minister said, "Definitely not".
'Atithi Devo Bhava' campaign, part of the Incredible India campaign was launched during the UPA regime.
As expected, the announcement drew sharply divided reactions on Twitter, with some citing at as an example of the government being intolerant of criticism.
— Sanjay Jha (@JhaSanjay) January 6, 2016
Aamir Khan removed as the ambassador of Incredible India for sharing the things his wife said to him, biwi ki baatein kyun karte ho dusro se
— SRK HATERS KO MAARO (@SRKswarrior1) January 6, 2016
So Aamir Khan is deposed as the ambassador of Incredible India, looks like Swachh Bharat campaign is in its full flow😂😂
— Pooja (@PoojaMissra) January 6, 2016
Earlier, the ministry issued a vague statement in response to certain news reports following government's answer to a RTI query on the issue.
"In response to certain news reports appearing in the media, about Aamir Khan, the Ministry of Tourism clarifies that there is no change in the stand of the ministry in this matter.
"The Ministry further clarifies that at present it has a contractual agreement with creative agency McCann Worldwide to produce social awareness campaign and the said campaign featured Aamir Khan," the ministry statement said.
Two months ago, Aamir had made controversial comments on perceived intolerance in the country for which he was criticised by many senior Union ministers.
At an event in New Delhi, Aamir had said that his wife Kiran Rao had asked if they should move out of the country, as she feared for the safety of their children in a climate of insecurity.
When contacted, Prasoon Joshi, the head of McCann Worldwide agency, only said, "We at McCann had a contractual agreement with the Ministry of Tourism for a social awareness campaign Atithi devo bhava'. Aamir Khan had graciously lent his support for the same. We have delivered the campaign to the Ministry."
Sharma said the contract for Rs 2.96 crore with McCann Worldwide agency was now over.
According to ministry officials, fresh tenders will be floated to device any new campaign, if required.
Officials said a report by the ministry's market and research division will also help in picking up a new face for the campaign in future.
However, indications were that Aamir is unlikely to figure in the future campaign, sources said.
With inputs from PTI