Meghalaya Tourism Minister Paul Lyngdoh has suggested that the recent controversy surrounding the scheduling of the Cherry Blossom Festival on a Sunday may have political undertones.
Addressing reporters on October 19, Minister Lyngdoh revealed his suspicions regarding what he believes to be a political agenda behind the opposition to hosting the festival on a Sunday. He argued that similar schedules have been implemented in the past without controversy, indicating that the opposition could be part of an effort to hinder the growth of tourism in the region.
"I suspect there is a political motive behind this move, that there are forces who are trying to impede the growth of tourism," Lyngdoh reasoned, implying that some factions may have ulterior motives.
Lyngdoh went on to emphasize that the Cherry Blossom Festival is not intended to infringe upon anyone's beliefs or preferences. "The festival is not meant for anybody who does not take to the idea of such a festival, and the government is not imposing anything," he clarified.
The minister underlined the significant economic impact that the Cherry Blossom Festival brings to the region, particularly for areas like Ri Bhoi and Bhoirymbong. He explained that a considerable portion of the festival's attendees comprises tourists from outside the state, including international visitors.
Highlighting the potential benefits, Lyngdoh expressed, "The festival will benefit the people of Ri Bhoi and Bhoirymbong in particular, as it will open up a lot of opportunities for businesses, stalls, shops, taxis, and various forms of transportation. People will be gainfully engaged in these activities."
Responding to objections based on religious grounds, Lyngdoh raised an important question. "If this section of people is opposing the festival stating that Sunday is a 'holy' day, then what about Seventh-day Adventists? Won't they oppose it being held on a Saturday, which is a holy day for them? And if you have it on a Friday, Muslims will object. It's holy for us; then how do you run a state in that manner?" he asked.
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