Tourism Minister Paul Lyngdoh smells a political conspiracy over the opposition to the Cherry Blossom Festival being held on a Sunday.
Various groups, which have even formed a joint action committee (JAC) to tackle the matter, are aghast that the three-day festival will conclude on the Christian day of rest.
An exasperated Lyngdoh today said that no one is being compelled to attend the event’s last day, so the opposition to it is moot.
The JAC had tried to meet the minister today on the subject but was unable to due to Lyngdoh’s tight schedule.
“For Ri-Bhoi district to grow, we’ve chosen a venue within that district because a lot of opportunities will be open in terms of people doing business, having stalls, having the shops and taxis, other forms of transportation – they all will be gainfully engaged,” he told reporters.
The JAC is against the festival taking place on a Sunday as it is a holy day for Christians but, Lyngdoh questioned, if Seventh Day Adventists oppose activities on Saturdays and Muslims on Fridays then “How do you run a state in this manner?”
He added that the problem here is that sections of people think that they are more intelligent than the people that they have elected. “In that case, why elect us? Why don’t they take over the government? You have a cabinet, you have a government that has been elected by the mandate of those people. As soon as you cast your vote, you think that you are more intelligent and have more foresight than the leaders that you have elected. That itself is ironic.”
The tourism minister suspects that there is a political motive behind this and that there are forces that are trying to impede the growth of tourism.
Even today, Shillong was hosting a tourism conclave that brought together Odisha and the North East states, the minister informed.
The demand to change the date of the Cherry Blossom Festival flies in the face of prevailing practice, with cinemas, restaurants, bars and parks largely open on Sundays. “Are you (the opposing groups) saying that on Sunday we close (all these) and push people to church? Can the government do that? This is all rubbish,” Lyngdoh said.