Perhaps, it is for the first time in history of central India that Madhya Pradesh government will hold state cabinet meeting on a cruise. To be held on February 2 aboard a cruise in Hanumantiya island located in reservoir of Indira Sagar dam built on Narmada river, it is the second state cabinet meeting which will be held outside state capital Bhopal in last two years.
On February 18, 2014, a state cabinet meeting was held at Ujjaini in Indore district where Narmada joins Kshipra river. The exercise was meant to promote it as a religious tourism centre located at confluence of two holy rivers.
In an official release issued last Friday, the state government said it was holding state cabinet meeting in Hanumantiya island in neighbouring Khandwa district to promote it as major water resort where chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan will inaugurate water festival on February 12. However, the state’s opposition leaders have dubbed it as extravagance.
“It’s a waste of people’s money. State government is cash-starved. Then, why it is spending so much on taking all the government machinery to Hanumantiya (which is 280 kilometres away from Bhopal),” said former Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee vice-president Arif Aqeel who is sitting Congress MLA from Bhopal (North). “But they (BJP) are in power, they can do anything, hold cabinet meeting anywhere,” he added. Sounding similar, senior Congress party leader and Shahdol MLA Bisahulal Singh insisted that state cabinet meeting should not be held outside Bhopal as it is a waste of government fund.
Veteran Congress party leader Mahesh Joshi said, “The more BJP-led state government resorts to such publicity-seeking tactic, better will be chances of Congress party’s revival in MP.” He said such measures would benefit Congress in future which is out of power in Madhya Pradesh since 2003.
Madhya Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation which has developed Hanumantiya island as water resort has invested approximately Rs 8 crore to construct a boat club, cruise facility and motorboat rides.