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A Jayathilak out of Chhattisgarh tourism board

Babychen Mathew

A Jayathilak is not Ajit Jogi's man. But who's gonna convince Raman Singh about that?

A few years back, nobody even knew anything about Chhattisgarh tourism. Did the little state even exist a few years back? Two years back, they called in Dr A Jayatilak, the man behind Kerala's successful backwaters tourism and 'god's own country' catchline to run Chhattisgarh tourism. Okay, let's be very, very clear in these politically charged times. Ajit Jogi, then chief minister of Chhattisgarh wanted to promote Chhattisgarh as a great tourism destination, and he thought Jayathilak was the man for the job. Enter Jayathilak.

And in the last two years, people started to think about Chhattisgarh as a state of India, not a naka or village under some rocks. Advertisements were splashed in papers and magazines, articles started appearing in international magazines talking about the dense forests, tribal culture, handicrafts et al. 

Then Jogi went out of government in a blaze of tribal fury, and in came BJP and Raman Singh.

Seems they did not like what Jayathilak was doing to Chhattisgarh tourism. Accusations include self-promotion, over-spending and wrong focus. 

Self promotion? That sounds like a charge against Ajit Jogi, not Jayathilak. Of course, Jayathilak had a high profile as the successful architect of Kerala Tourism, and like it or not, it stays with him. By the way, self promotion has not been described in government employee rules as punishable.

Over-spending. Does not matter. Over-spending is in the beholder's eyes. One can even say Raman Singh's RSS Khaki knickers cost too much.

Wrong focus. Ah now there we have it. It seems that The BJP government thinks that tourism in Chhattisgarh should be focused around a temple circuit - "Bheoramdeo, called the Khajuraho of Chhattisgarh, Champaran, the birthplace of Sri Vallabhacharya, the three deitiesí temples at Rattanpur, Dongargarh and Danteshwari at Dantewara have also been identified," says Raman Singh.

Okay, so Jayathilak wanted the Kerala model of focusing on the rich tourists from abroad who will be few in numbers but will spend big, focus on culture and handicrafts etc. Raman Singh wants temple-trippers from India who can go worship there. At least that's what it looks like for now.

But then this is standard BJP-RSS behaviour, right? Chhattisgarh or Kerala, something in the public eye has to be invariably about Hinduism. Foreigners may bring in money, but they molest our virgin motherland, and we will preserve her chastity at any cost, even at the cost of local tourists in hordes (if they come at all) peeing on monuments and scratching 'Raju loves Simran' on walls. This writer had predicted that Jayathilak will not be allowed to continue when the government changed. But I had expected only the charge of him being Ajit Jogi's man. Nah, one underestimated BJP's love for temples, and temples alone. Let's see what happens from now. We will definitely keep a watchful eye.








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