This goes to the credit of Vasundhara Raje-led BJP government in Rajasthan, which has turned Rajasthan Day a mega event and a major attraction for the tourists, particularly foreigners.
Till two year back, Rajasthan Day, which falls on March 31, was just a lackluster event. An official function, with the presence of Governor, Chief Minister, ministers and government officials, used to be held in the state capital to mark the day.
Chief Minister Smt Vasundhara Raje visualised that Rajasthan Day, if properly organised, has the potential of a major event. She asked the officials to prepare a blueprint for the programme so that it could be executed with all finer details.
She wanted that it should be held like the annual Republic Day parade in the national capital. As a first step, an impressive war memorial was built near the Sawai Man Singh Stadium on Rajpath. The road is almost like the Janpath of the national capital and dotted with new landmark buildings like Vitta Bhawan, Vidyut Bhawan and Awas Bhawan.
The responsibility to organise the event was given to the tourism department, which came out with a week-long Rajasthan Day celebrations, with concluding function on March 31. To highlight the rich heritage of the state, folk dances, food festivals, cultural and literary events were made part of the celebrations.
The state government was able to rope in Defence Ministry for sending its contingents and bands for the Rajasthan Day Parade. The state police and NCC were asked to prepare their contingents to take part in the parade.
The imposing Rajasthan Vidhan Sabha was the prefect venue for such event. The district administrations were asked to send not only their tableaux, depicting the culture of the respective areas, but also folk dancers of the respective regions. The first mega Rajasthan Day event was held on March 31, 2004. It had some flaws, but these were rectified next year. That year Prince Charles of England happened to be in Jaipur. When he was told about the way the Day was celebrated, he immediately agreed to become the chief guest. The presence of Prince Charles gave the event an international publicity.
This year President of India, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, readily agreed to preside over the Rajasthan Day Parade at Rajpath. He praised the state government for organising such an impressive function.
However, the Vasundhara Raje government had come under criticism from opposition quarters for spending huge money on Rajasthan Day Celebrations. But people in the hotel industry say, this is going to become a major attraction for the foreign tourists in the years to come. ?Right now, the money being spend is kind of an investment. It would start paying in the next couple of years, if the event is properly publicised abroad?, says Shri Man Singh, who runs a heritage hotel in the state capital.