When reports emerged that noted Bollywood star Aamir Khan was likely to be the brand ambassador of a project by Maharashtra government to make the state drought-free, all hell broke loose on social media.
The Twiterrati argued that Aamir Khan was not the right person to represent farmers’ issues better in the Maharashtra government’s flagship scheme, Jalyukt Shivar. What’s more, they even nominated someone who they thought was better qualified: Nana Patekar.
Patekar, a National Award-winning actor has been donating ₹15,000 each to widows of the farmers who committed suicide in drought-hit Maharashtra through his NGO NAAM Foundation, since September 2015.
The move by the BJP-led state government to get Aamir Khan on board for the scheme comes less than three months after the actor found himself in the middle of an 'intolerance debate'. In fact, following Khan’s controversial comments, the BJP government ended his contract as the brand ambassador for its 'Incredible India' campaign.
— India Samvad (@india_samvad) February 17, 2016
Patekar, on the hand, has been in the news for his advocacy of farmers’ issues in drought-hit Maharashtra and has been urging people to join the cause and to contribute to the education farmers’ children.
At a recent event in Nashik, he announced that his foundation had started a medical card facility under which free healthcare services would be rendered to those who hold a NAAM medical card.
Despite his involvement in this issue, Patekar has managed to stay surprisingly apolitical.
In an earlier interview to a news channel, Patekar said that he did not blame any government. "Drought is a natural calamity, you can't blame the government or the authorities for it," he said.
The actor, best known for his films such as Prahaar: The Final Attack (1991), Agni Sakshi (1996) and Ab Tak Chhappan (2005), was recently seen in the critically-acclaimed Marathi film Natsamrat (2016) which was an adaptation of a famous play by VV Shirwadkar.
Whatever social media may be clamouring for, though, AamirKhan and Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis are expected to make a joint announcement of the initiative at the government guesthouse on Wednesday.
The year 2015 saw the highest number of farmer suicides in Maharashtra since 2001. Around 2,590 farmers ended their lives between January to October 2015, reported The Hindu.