The impact of the coronavirus outbreak on tourism is likely to be felt well into 2021. The peak tourist season is coming to an end and the industry is facing huge losses because of a sudden slump. Several tour groups from China, South Korea, Japan, and Thailand have cancelled trips to Aurangabad, home to the famed Ajanta and Ellora Caves, which they had scheduled months before, according to various reports. March is the end of the tourist season, with several travellers, primarily from Buddhist nations, thronging these caves every year. Travellers from Europe have also steered clear of the two World Heritage sites and there is not even a single booking so far even for the next season, Aurangabad Tourism Development Foundation has said.
It’s been a month that Delhi handed a humbling defeat to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) but introspection in the party is still on. There are some party functionaries who are not willing to buy the argument that controversial statements by some leaders or alleged attempts at polarisation cost the BJP dear. At a meeting last week, attended by 55 of the 62 who lost in the recent polls, one such candidate complained that his constituency with a sizeable Muslim population could have done with a gathering addressed by UP Chief Minister Adityanath, which he couldn’t secure despite his best efforts. He reasoned that since Adityanath had come to address a gathering in a nearby constituency, his own could have been embedded in the schedule. He also rued the absence of Union Minister Anurag Thakur in his constituency. Thakur was scheduled to visit his area the same day he had to address a rally in far-off Narela and ended up not making it to the candidate’s constituency. If that was not all, an actor who was marked as a star campaigner in his area was in another country on the allotted day. Apart from campaign mismanagement, he also alleged "favouritism” in “star” allotment.
Malda district in West Bengal has been Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s bugbear. In the last Lok Sabha polls, the Trinamool drew a blank there while the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress won a seat each. In the 2016 Assembly elections also, her party failed to open its account there despite its great showing elsewhere in the state. Little wonder, during a recent visit to the area, the chief ministers gave local leaders a piece of her mind. Addressing the party’s booth-level workers’ conference at Choto Sujapur, Banerjee pulled up district leaders one by one. First she reprimanded former MLA Sabitri Mitra and Gourchanda Mandal for fighting among themselves. She then turned to Babla Sarkar and accused him of never venturing beyond the municipal areas of Englishbazar and Old Malda. She slighted him by calling him a “municipal” leader. She rebuked a fourth one for neglecting his party duties, and so on.