Change of heart? BJP to name Aamir as face of drought-free Maharashtra

  • HT Correspondent, Mumbai
  • Updated: Feb 17, 2016 12:05 IST
Aamir Khan faced the ire of right-wing groups after his comments on intolerance last year. ) (Yogen Shah)

The BJP government in Maharashtra is set to declare actor Aamir Khan as the face of its drought-free state scheme, barely a month after the Bollywood star was pushed out of the Incredible India campaign, a possible fallout of his comments regarding intolerance.

Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis will announce the decision at a function on Wednesday with Khan present. Over 1,000 farmers have committed suicide in the last three months, the state government’s affidavit in the Bombay high court.

In November, the actor was attacked by senior BJP ministers and right-wing groups for revealing his family contemplated moving abroad following a series of violent incidents, including the mob lynching of a Muslim man and the burning alive of two Dalit children.

But the controversy didn’t stop the Maharashtra government from getting the star to make Khan the face of its state-wide watershed management programme.

Officials admit the partnership will see Khan proactively work with the government for its Jal Yukt Shivar scheme, Fadnavis’ pet project that aims to make villages drought-free in five years through water-conservation programmes.

“It will probably be one of the biggest partnerships of such a kind in the country. He will work with us through a structured programme to aid Jal Yukt Shivar. He will give us his time, focus and help in execution,” said a bureaucrat, who has knowledge about the proposed partnership.

State government officials said they were in talks with Khan since last May and that he was keen. Last year, Khan contributed Rs 11 lakh to the CM relief fund as donation for this water scheme.

In January, the BJP government discontinued Khan as the brand ambassador for its Incredible India campaign after 10 years, saying the contract with McCann, the advertising company that hired Khan, had run out.

But now, a new stint between the actor and the BJP-led government may be beginning, although limited to Maharashtra.

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