Reacting to news reports that the government has put on hold the process of signing up Amitabh Bachchan as the brand ambassador of ‘Atulya Bharat’ (Incredible India) after the actor’s name figured in the Panama Papers, the actor said on Tuesday that he was not 'formally approached’ for the position.
Bachchan and actress Priyanka Chopra were the frontrunners for the publicity of the campaign aimed at promoting India as a favourite tourist destination abroad after popular actor Aamir Khan ceased to be its brand ambassador following his intolerance remarks.
"There have been queries from the media regarding my being Brand Ambassador for 'Atulya Bharat'. I wish to state that I have not been formally approached for this position. The speculation of the media regarding its discontinuance is, therefore, not relevant as far as I am concerned,” Bachchan said in a statement.
Bachchan's name figured among 500 Indian individuals and entities who owned firms and accounts in offshore tax havens in the leaked documents of Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca.
“On the Panama disclosures, I wish to state that queries continue to be sent to me by the media. I would humbly request them to kindly direct these to the GOI where I, as a law abiding citizen have already sent, and shall continue to send, my responses. I stand by my earlier statement on the ‘misuse of my name’ in the matter and in any event the press reports do not disclose any illegal act committed by me,” the 73-year-old actor added.
Soon after the leaked documents were published, Bachchan had said his name might have been "misused".
"I do not know any of the companies referred to by Indian Express - Sea Bulk Shipping Company Ltd, Lady Shipping Ltd, Treasure Shipping Ltd and Tramp Shipping Ltd. I have never been a director of any of the above stated companies. It is possible that my name has been misused," he had said in a statement.
Bachchan was said to be Prime Minister Narendra Modi's first choice as brand ambassador of the mega publicity campaign. The superstar became the brand ambassador for Gujarat Tourism when Modi was the state's Chief Minister.
Bachchan is also the ambassador for Maharashtra's 'Save Tiger' project.
Though it was believed that Aamir Khan was eased out of the Incredible India campaign in January after being associated with it for several years for his remarks on intolerance, the Tourism Ministry had clarified that he was not hired by the government for it and that the contract with the advertising agency which engaged him had expired.