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To market or not to market the Kumbh

Source: PTI
Last updated on: February 10, 2004 17:27 IST

In the wake of mounting pressure from Sangh outfits, the Madhya Pradesh government is likely to take a fresh decision on Wednesday on the fate of the marketing contract with Linterland, a Lintas subsidiary, for the mega religious event, the Simhastha Kumbh Mela, at Ujjain.

A final decision on the much-talked about agreement with Linterland is expected to be taken at the meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs scheduled to be held in Bhopal, highly-placed state government sources said.

"There is enough ground to rescind it (the contract). The pressure to terminate from different quarters," the sources said, even as officials declined to hazard any guess on the fate of the contract for the grand Simhasta Kumbh Mela to be held at the holy city from April 5 to May 4.

Top officials said a comprehensive review of the various aspects of the agreement has already been carried out and "since the earlier decision to engage Linterland had been taken by the CCEA, any reconsideration of the matter after the review will have to be made by it."

The Uma Bharti-led Bharatiya Janata party government has been under tremendous pressure from the Sangh Parivar outfits, as also the Swadeshi Jagran Manch, who are vehemently opposing the agreement saying it would lead to rampant 'commercialisation' of Simhastha and have 'adverse impact' on culture.

The outfits are against various aspects of the contract, including the right to allot space for stalls, commercial activities and right to decide on partners for print and visual media on the ground that many of its provisions violate the MP Simhastha Act and the MP Municipal Corporation Act.

Meanwhile, the All India Akhara Parishad has also attacked the state government's move to involve a multinational corporation in the allotment of commercial stalls, saying Simhastha is a spiritual event and should not be commercialised at any cost.

"MNCs must be kept out of Simhastha affair. They should not be involved in the process of allotment of stalls and other activities during the mela," Mahant Gyandas, the newly appointed president of the parishad, said.

The SJM has emerged as a vociferous force in registering its resistance to the contract saying it shows the adverse impact of the World Trade Organisation regime on Indian culture and social fabric.

SJM leaders are of the view that WTO would be used by the advanced nations to exploit Indian market instead of ensuring its economic development. The whole process of marketing the Simhastha would be used to exploit Indian culture, they said.

Demanding immediate cancellation of the agreement, the SJM has said if the mega event requires to be publicised, it should be done through internal networks.

The critics of the agreement are of the opinion that the entire spiritual atmosphere and cultural fabric will be polluted to a great extent if a MNC is allowed to target over two crore pilgrims likely to throng the Simhastha to sell products of varied nature.

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