How reports of 'beach love festival’ turned into a 24-hour chaos.

Andhra govt has one question for media public Where is the loveImage for representation
news Saturday, November 05, 2016 - 20:16

After about two days of frenzied media reports and an opposition blitzkrieg, a baffled Andhra Pradesh government had just one question for everybody: Where is the love?

According to The Hindu, Mumbai-based Positive Global Services and Consultancy Pvt. Ltd. was set to organize a Beach Love Festival in February 12-14 next. It has in the past, organized similar festivals in Goa, with bikini-clad women, music, dance, and free-flowing alcohol.  

On Thursday, reports with little snippets about the festival began making an appearance. By Friday, it was on full swing. One report suggested that singer Shakira was going to perform at the festival, while others 'quoted sources' and claimed that the festival will be jointly held by Department of  Youth Affairs, Tourism Department and the Visakhapatnam Urban Development Authority. 

Horror of horrors, all this was to be inaugurated by none other than Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu himself, reports said.

FYI, February 14 is Valentine’s Day, so you can imagine what followed.

Speaking to Sakshi TV, Opposition leader and YSRCP MLA Roja said "They are tainting our culture in the name of love festival. 9,000 couples will be there it seems. Bikini show will be there it seems (sic)."  

Referring to Naidu's wife and daughter-in-law, Roja asked if they and other women members of the TDP approved of such events and if they would also participate.

Soon, almost every TV channel in Andhra jumped on the bandwagon as they went from one party to another, asking for a byte.

Both Roja and YSRCP spokesperson Ambati Rambabu soon addressed a press meet and asked the BJP, which is an ally of the TDP, to make its stand on the issue clear.

The BJP condemned the proposal, and said that such an event which goes "against the state's culture" can't be allowed. BJP leader and local legislator P Vishnukumar Raju said there was no question of allowing such a programme.

Even the AP Mahila Sangham is said to have held a protest in the city on Friday.

By Friday evening, HRD Minister Ganta Srinivas Rao was forced to hold a conference on Friday and clearly state that “the government will not allow any program at the cost of our culture and traditions."

But by then, all the channels had picked it up and some even had hour-long debates on falling Telugu morals. 

But in a rather comical turn of events, although forced to take a stand against the ‘love festival’, the government was not sure of whether the event was happening or not. 

The Visakhapatnam tourism department appeared unaware of any ‘love festival’. An official told TNM, "We have no confirmation from the government. There was a plan to conduct an event, but now that protests are happening, we will have to reconsider what to do next." 

After more than 24-hours of chaos, the government on Saturday clarified that it will not allow any programme "inimical to Telugu culture and traditions".

Terming the media reports as "rumours", the Andhra Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation and the Municipal Corporation of Visakhapatnam condemned what they called the misinformation campaign.

"It (media) speculated that over nine thousand couples from across the world would descend upon Visakhapatnam to indulge in a no-holds-barred beach love and that preparations are on to organise the private event sanctioned by the government," an official statement said.

It clarified that the government had received a proposal by a private agency about organising a mega event during February 2017 in Visakhapatnam to attract foreign tourists. Accordingly the government formed a committee to liaise with the event managers.

"As of now the private agency did not put forth any blueprint of the proposed event before the said committee, and as and when it is done the same would be examined as per standard procedure," it added.

Where, indeed, is the love?

Sigh.

IANS inputs

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