Jaipur, June 30 (IANS) In Rajasthan they are “killing the goose that lays the golden eggs”, feels a key minister of the Ashok Gehlot Cabinet as the Tourism Department is stuck in an ongoing deadlock between the bureaucracy and the government.
State Tourism Minister Vishvendra Singh has shot a series of tweets recently to reflect his dissatisfaction with the working in his department, though that did not have much of an effect.
Speaking to IANS, Vishvendra Singh said: “I am keen to generate revenues by bringing in PPP initiatives to boost domestic tourism. I want to see quick implementation of new tourism policy and turn the bleeding RTDC into a milching cow.
“However, it seems, I have no powers to churn the system, RTDC is bleeding, employees have no salaries for the last few months, there is no chairman in RTDC and I have no powers to intervene. Hope the higher-ups are listening, he said adding, “Padharo Mhare Des, our tagline, will lose its meaning if things don’t fall into place.”
Singh, on June 26, took to Twitter to show the stalemate on. He said that the department has failed to bring out a new Tourism policy in last one and half years after the Gehlot government came to power in 2018.
Not just there was no fresh policy introduced under the Congress government, but even no fresh hiring took place. “Despite changing two Managing Directors, there are no plans of RTDC revival on paper,” said Singh, who is said to be from Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot’s camp.
The minister, who shares his Ministry with two others — a Minister for State and a Art and Culture Minister — has complained that his department, which expected to propel the economy being the most vibrant in terms of attarcting tourists from all over the world, is in fact not prepared at all for the new normal whenever that kicks in.
“The tourist figures have already tumbled after the Covid outbreak and successive lockdowns. The tourism industry lies in shambles but the officials won’t budge and prefer to act blind,” he said in one of his tweets.
Singh demanded changes and tagged the Chief Minister in a tweet, saying, “For a very long time, going against my nature and work ethic, I kept silent on many things but my CM @ashokgehlot has always advocated transparency and honesty and I am now forced to share the shortcomings of the tourism department.”
Seeking Gehlot’s support, he said: “Yes, I look forward to your support in some drastic but necessary decisions in the near future to save the interests and livelihoods of millions of people engaged in tourism and related industries in #Rajasthan.
The tourism sector was trifurcated in December 2018, breaking all past traditions after the formation of the new government. Tourism, art and culture departments were given three ministers against one minister system in earlier BJP and Congress regimes.
All three departments though were put under one principal secretary.
Vishvendra Singh is the state tourism minister, Govind Singh Dotasara is minister of state for tourism (apart from being the state minister for education) and B.D. Kalla is Minister for art and culture, but also enjoys bigger portfolios like Power and PHED.
“Too many cooks spoil the broth! Same goes the case with Rajasthan tourism,” said a senior official expressing anonymity.
It’s not only the minister, but the tourism stakeholders in Rajasthan are equally upset with continuous slashing of funds for the sector. Funds around Rs 100 crore have been allotted since last 2 years, which was earlier Rs 179.23 crore for 2018-19 under the BJP government.
Rajasthan faces stiff competition from states like Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Kerala who generally spend big to attract tourists; we also need to follow them on marketing, promotion and advertising, said travel expert Sanjay Kaushik.