The Telegraph
Saturday , March 29 , 2014

‘Activist’ Aamir for aam aadmi, not party

Mumbai, March 28: For many in Bollywood, the move from film posters to election hoardings represents a natural progression. But Aamir Khan has made it clear with a letter to the Election Commission that he does not endorse any political party.

Sources close to the actor told The Telegraph that Aamir wrote the letter after finding that Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) supporters were using his pictures in their poster, Twitter and Facebook campaigns. The AAP has distanced itself from these posters and posts, blaming them on supporters.

A grandson of freedom fighter Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Aamir, who has named his son with wife Kiran Rao as “Azad”, is seen as an activist.

Many would remember him addressing crowds at Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan during the Anna Hazare-led Lokpal agitation. But he stepped back the moment some of the campaign’s supporters formed a political party, the AAP.

“Aamir is idealistic and believes in socially committed activism. He doesn’t want to be associated with any political party,” the source said.

The actor began wearing his activist hat after the bohemian-idealist character he played in the early 2006 hit Rang De Basanti became hugely popular.

In April that year, Aamir publicly supported the cause of the Medha Patkar-led Narmada Bachao Andolan, angering the Narendra Modi government, which unofficially banned his film Fanaa in Gujarat and dragged him into an old wildlife case. Patkar is now an AAP candidate from Mumbai but Aamir will not be pitching for her this time.

In April 2006, Aamir had also annoyed the Congress by demanding justice for the Bhopal gas victims, prompting party activists to tear posters of Fanaa and burn his effigies.

Since then, Aamir has shown a politician’s balancing skills, nimbly side-stepping a pesticide row while doing ads for Coca-Cola and then running with the Olympic Torch ahead of the Beijing Games while saying a “silent prayer for Tibet in my heart”.

On May 25, 2006, a day before Fanaa’s release, Aamir had addressed a news conference in Mumbai, where he spoke against the Gujarat riots and castigated Kashmir terrorists, calling for the rehabilitation of the Valley’s Pandits.

In response to a question from The Telegraph on whether he would ever join politics, Aamir had said: “No, I am an ordinary citizenů. We have a democracy and I feel I have a right to express my opinion.”

Yesterday, his spokesperson said: “Aamir Khan, from day one, has made it clear that he will not be endorsing a particular political party. He is not supporting or campaigning for any political party.”

The source close to Aamir said: “As brand ambassador of the Election Commission’s voter awareness campaign, Aamir does not want to be perceived as someone with a political affiliation. He is encouraging people to vote in the poll panel campaign. If they see him as a representative of a political party, endorsing it, it will send wrong signals.”

AAP spokesperson Preeti Sharma Menon said the poll panel had not yet contacted the party on the subject.

“The poster only shows Arvind Kejriwal, Aamir Khan and Abdul Kalam, with a label that says ‘AK1, 2 and 3’. Even if this was made by a supporter, it does not suggest that either Aamir Khan or Abdul Kalam are members of the AAP,” she said. Like Aamir, former President Kalam too is an Election Commission brand ambassador.