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After raising the pitch at Ayodhya with high octane religious and cultural programmes on the eve of Diwali last week, the Yogi Adityanath government is now gearing up for global branding of the forthcoming 2019 Ardh Kumbh in Allahabad. Over the past few weeks, the Yogi government had on one hand fended criticism over non-inclusion of Taj Mahal from the state tourism booklet by waxing eloquent on the 17th century monument and its tourism potential, while on the other accelerated its cultural agenda with the Ayodhya extravaganza and Yogi’s visit to other religious and cultural spots, including Chitrakoot. Now, Yogi is scheduled to visit Taj Mahal and Agra Fort on October 26 to review tourism and development projects. At the same time, the CM is meeting business leaders and representatives from top US blue chip companies here this evening. While, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) helmed by Yogi is keeping the pot of its core cultural agenda simmering in run up to the forthcoming UP urban local bodies poll and 2019 Lok Sabha poll, it is simultaneously looking to balance it with development projects and optics, such as the meeting of the US business leaders with Yogi and visit to the Mughal architecture of Taj Mahal. The representatives of about two dozen US companies has arrived in the state capital to meet Yogi and top officials, including chief secretary Rajive Kumar and UP infrastructure and industrial development commissioner (IIDC) Anup Chandra Pandey. The group visited under the aegis of US-India Strategic Partnership Forum (USISPF) with the representation of marquee US companies, viz.
Boeing, Coca Cola, Adobe, Facebook, Mastercard, Uber, Honeywell, P&G, Oracle, GE Health, Cargill, Monsanto etc.Earlier, on October 18, Yogi accompanied by senior ministers had participated in a string of programmes in Ayodhya, including an attempt to create a Guinness World record by lighting over 1.70 lakh diyas (earthen pots) at the banks of Saryu. Artistes from Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Thailand had also staged Ramlila, apart from a dazzling laser show themed on epic Ramayan. The Yogi government has also proposed to build a grand 100 metre Lord Ram statue in Ayodhya, the birthplace of Lord Ram according to popular Hindu mythology. However, the estimated Rs 200 crore project would need clearance by the National Green Tribunal (NGT). For 2019 Ardh Kumbh, the Yogi government had allocated Rs 500 crore for the preparation of the mega event and even roped in noted Bollywood song writer and ad guru Prasoon Joshi for branding religious, cultural and historical tourism around it. Chairing a meeting on the Kumbh Mela recently, Yogi noted the event was associated with India’s cultural heritage even as he directed officials to provide international level infrastructure at the Mela area for the visitors and tourists to realise its full tourism potential. He observed since Ardh Kumbh signified Indian culture, it would serve as a perfect opportunity to showcase Indian tradition and culture at the global level.