Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan may become the brand ambassador of Commonwealth Games after the Indian Olympic Association decided not to consider Amitabh Bachchan for this honour, reports Mid Day.
SRK, the report says, had once said he would stop doing things that Amitabh Bachchan had done before. Like the remake of Don, or the hit quiz show Kaun Banega Crorepati. But this is an entirely different ballgame. Shah Rukh may now be doing something that Amitabh couldn't do at all.
After the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) decided not to consider his name as the brand ambassador for 2010 Commonwealth Games, Bachchan might have to contend with another ignominy. That of being replaced by Shah Rukh Khan. Speculations have been doing the rounds of political circles in Delhi that the Congress is aiming at killing two birds with one stone, if such a move materialises.
Though Commonwealth Games Federation chairman Suresh Kalmadi was not available for comments, federation's media in-charge Lalit Bhanot did not rule out the possibility of SRK becoming the brand ambassador for the mega sporting event.
Though officially, he was more cautious. "Right now we are considering names of sportspersons as ambassadors. Whenever we will take a decision, we will let you know."
"Shah Rukh has everything a brand ambassador for an international event should have. He is a Muslim and is someone who stood up against the hooliganism of the Shiv Sena. He has a secular face, he is young, and has a larger appeal," a senior bureaucrat associated with the Commonwealth Games told MiD DAY, requesting anonymity.
IOA chief Suresh Kalmadi, at a function on Tuesday, hinted that Big B was too old for espousing the cause of an international sporting event. "We are looking for a fresh, young face," he told media persons. The statement pumped oxygen into the lungs of those who have been baying for the blood of Bachchan after he took over as the brand ambassador of Gujarat.
The Congress, the ruling party both at the Centre and Delhi, has already reiterated that somebody who could stand for Narendra Modi's Gujarat should not be made the face of an event as big as the Commonwealth Games."Mr Bachchan do you endorse what happened during the riots? What are your views on the Gujarat government's complicity during the post-Godhra massacre? You must explain your position clearly," Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari had demanded.
In fact, it was after the Congress party snubbed Bachchan for his role as Gujarat's brand ambassador that the BJP came up with the proposal of making the Big B the face of the Commonwealth Games. However, the Congress tried to steer clear of its role in the decision of choosing a brand ambassador for the October games. "It is the prerogative of the Commonwealth Games Federation to appoint a brand ambassador. The Congress has nothing to do with it," Tiwari told MiD DAY.
But with the surfacing of Shah Rukh's name even the BJP is in a tight spot. Though it outrightly rejected the idea of dropping Amitabh Bachchan's name due to age factor they did not completely disagree with SRK replacing him. Indian Olympic Association senior vice-president and an executive board member of the Games VK Malhotra said, "The matter will be decided by the executive board. I would not like to comment on his (Amitabh Bachchan) candidature. But saying no to him just because of his age is ridiculous."
Sources in Delhi Congress said choosing SRK will help the party send out a message to Amitabh Bachhan, adding that "Shah Rukh is younger and more acceptable." They also pointed out the close relations that the King Khan enjoys with both Congress president Sonia Gandhi and Delhi chief minister Sheila Diskhit to corroborate their claims.
Shah Rukh Khan during the Delhi Half Marathon in November 2009 had indeed expressed his desire to be a part of the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony. MiD DAY tried to contact Amitabh Bachchan, but he did not return the phone calls. Another federation official said that there could be many brand ambassadors for the promotion of the event and Shah Rukh could be one of them. "However, at this juncture it is very tough to say who will be named as main brand ambassador for the games. The executive board is yet to take a final decision," the official said.
Amitabh Bachchan was the brand ambassador of 1982 Delhi Asiad in which he lent his voice and anchored the opening ceremony. He was close to Rajiv Gandhi at that point of time.