NEW DELHI: If all goes to the Modi regime’s plans, Kumbh Mela 2019 will not just be a cultural and religious event but also a platform for diplomacy.
The Centre plans to invite major heads of state and foreign dignitaries for the event on the banks of the Sangam, the confluence of the rivers Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati in Allahabad.
To be held ahead of next year’s Lok Sabha elections, the Centre and the Uttar Pradesh government are already working to showcase the Kumbh Mela as a mega global event, sources said. Believed to be the largest religious gathering in the world, it gets a lot of traction and is expected to be attended by over 12 crore people, including foreigners.
From the very beginning of his term, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been focusing on strengthening relations with other countries, especially India’s neighbours. In May 2014, invites were sent to heads of states of all SAARC nations for his swearing-in. For this year’s Republic Day, the heads of state of all 10 Asean nations were invited.
Sources said directions had been issued to the National Mission for Clean Ganga (NMCG), which is working with the Uttar Pradesh government for infrastructure development and river cleaning, to include the construction of VIP cottages as part of preparations for the Kumbh Mela. The cottages are expected to be built in the vicinity of the venue, keeping in mind likely visits by foreign dignitaries.
“There are plans to send invitations to heads of government to attend Kumbh Mela 2019. Directions have been issued to agencies working on infrastructure development to keep in mind visits by foreign VVIPs during the event,” a source said.
The NMCG has already approved two projects for the mela - setting up of community toilets and procurement of dustbins. This will be done at an estimated cost of Rs 113 crore and Rs 3.6 crore respectively.
The RSS has underscored that the 2019 mela should be organised on a grand scale. In a meeting with Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Tuesday, the RSS said its members would participate in the event.
“There is a lot of interest among foreign visitors in the Kumbh Mela, especially the groups of various sadhus in akharas,” the source added.