Agra: The annual 10-day Taj Mahotsav, which figures prominently on international tourism calendars, has been postponed from Feb 18 to March 16 in view of the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, angering both the people and the tourism industry here.
The district authorities Monday evening decided to postpone the cultural extravaganza in view of the elections as all the agencies and officials would be busy with the conduct of the polls.
It is the first time since the festival started in 1993 that the extravaganza is being postponed, inviting the wrath of the people.
"Why postpone, cancel it," was the angry retort of a hotelier of the Taj city.
"Elections in our country are definitely the biggest festival and the festivities will continue for a good one month," was the tongue-in-cheek comment of senior tourism industry leader Surendra Sharma.
Divisional Commissioner Amrit Abhijat, who heads the Taj Festival organising committee, said security forces are needed for the conduct of elections.
"Handicrafts and artisans will have difficulties in coming to the venue with their wares and cash. The tendering procedures too would be restricted by the code of conduct," said a release, quoting officials.
Activist Shravan Kumar Singh opined, "An election is not a war or a disaster that normal activities should be interrupted like this."
Asks university student Rakesh: "The Election Commission has not asked to change the dates, so why is there such a discomfort with holding the festival on the scheduled dates?"
"There will be examinations in March and the youths will not be able to enjoy the Mahotsav," he added.