A day after the opposition Congress legislators in the Assam legislative Assembly demanded removal of actress Priyanka Chopra as the brand ambassador of Assam tourism, State Tourism Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma came to her rescue and said that a section of the Congress legislators are trying to get cheap publicity out of the issue.
Congress legislators including Nandita Das and Rupjyoti Kurmi recently raised objections during the ongoing session of the Assam legislative assembly to a photograph of the Bollywood star in 'minimal clothes' as featured in a calendar of the Assam Tourism Development Corporation (ATDC) and demanded that she be removed as the brand ambassador of Assam tourism.
The Congress legislators also showed a copy of the ATDC calendar where Priyanka was seen wearing a frock and not the traditional dress of Assam - Mekhela chador.
"A section of Congress legislators in Assam are trying to get cheap publicity out of the issue. When we receive felicitation in some stage do we go wearing dhoti, the traditional dress of Assam or wearing pants and shirts? If someone comes to Assam from abroad will he be felicitated after wearing dhoti?," said Sarma while answering a journalist outside the House on Tuesday.
Congress leader and Assam's Leader of Opposition Debabrata Saikia said that it would have been better if the brand ambassador had worn Assam's traditional dress during the photo-shoot for the calendar of ATDC.
"I think that (wearing an Assamese traditional dress) would have been appropriate for the actor to promote the culture and tradition of Assam," he said.
Saikia, however, said that the government should rather concentrate on improving the tourism infrastructure in Assam rather than spending funds on appointing brand ambassadors.
"The tourism infrastructure has been improved in past several years but it needs to improve further and government should concentrate on that," he added.
Saikia said the appointment of Priyanka as brand ambassador had failed to increase the tourist inflow to the state - be it domestic or foreign.
"The data placed in the House today revealed that while 28,419 foreign tourists visited the state during 2016-16, only 9,421 foreign tourists had visited the state in the current fiscal (till October 2018)," said Saikia.
Priyanka, who was appointed by the Assam government as the brand ambassador of the Assam Tourism Development Corporation in 2016, has drawn severe criticism as the film star remained silent even as the worst ever floods hit the state last year.
The "Quantico" star was also in a controversy last year for referring to Sikkim as an insurgency hit state while the fact remains that Sikkim is the most peaceful state in the northeast region.