Amitabh Kant
Amitabh Kant says Aamir Khan damaged Brand India. Picture: The senior official speaking at the National Institute of Design (NID) convocation in Ahmedabad on 18 January, 2016.Amitabh Kant/Twitter

A senior government bureaucrat fired a fresh salvo at Bollywood actor Aamir Khan, who was eased out as the brand ambassador of the tourism ministry's "Incredible India" campaign.

Amitabh Kant, secretary, department of industrial policy and promotion (DIPP), said that the actor failed in his role as the face of the "Incredible India" campaign that seeks to promote the country as a tourist destination abroad.

Tourism is promoted aggressively abroad by India to encourage foreigners to visit the country. In calendar year 2015, foreign visitors spent $19.67 billion in India. 

Kant defended the removal of Aamir Khan as the brand ambassador, though the government had on record denied any role in it.

The Union Tourism Minister Mahesh Sharma had on 7 January said that the actor's Rs 2.96 crore contract with the advertising agency, McCann Worldgroup, came to an end.

"We have nothing do with it. That (Aamir's remark) was a non-issue for us. The Ministry of Tourism has nothing to do with that," The Indian Express quoted him as saying.

Khan was in trouble after his "intolerance" remark at an event in New Delhi in November 2015.

The controversy had pitted the BJP and the Congress against each other, with the Congress accusing the BJP of practising vendetta politics while the BJP distanced itself from the affair. Even the PMO was dragged into the controversy.

Incidentally, the BJP's incharge for IT cell, Amit Malviya, was among the few to confirm Aamir Khan's removal when the media started speculating it.

Aamir Khan removed as brand ambassador of Incredible #India.

— Amit Malviya (@malviyamit) January 6, 2016

Kant is believed to be one of the key officials behind the "Make in India" initiative launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in September 2014. 

Kant will be joining as the CEO of NITI Aayog after his retirement in February, the government said in a statement on 8 January, 2016.

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