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Assam tourism minister defends Priyanka Chopra; accuses critics of seeking cheap publicity

Leader of opposition Debabrata Saikia said tourism had dwindled since Chopra was made ambassador.

Our Correspondent

A day after opposition leaders from Congress slammed the BJP-led state government for appointing actress Priyanka Chopra as the brand ambassador for Assam tourism, state tourism minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has defended their choice and also hit out at the opposition accusing them of seeking cheap publicity, as reported by IANS.

Chopra, 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.

“A section of Congress legislators in Assam is trying to get cheap publicity out of the issue. When we receive felicitation on 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?," Sarma told a reporter outside the House on Tuesday.

The host of opposition leaders not only objected to the choice of Chopra as brand ambassador, but were also critical of the actress not wearing the traditional Assamese clothing in the photoshoot for the calendar of Assam Tourism Development Corporation.

"I think that (wearing an Assamese traditional dress) would have been appropriate for the actor to promote the culture and tradition of Assam,” said Congress leader and the leader of the opposition Debabrata Saikia said in the House.

Saikia also pointed that despite having Chopra as brand ambassador, tourism continued to dwindle in the state. He said, “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).”

Chopra was appointed Assam tourism ambassador last year. The Quantico star had courted controversy when she wrongly referred to Sikkim as a state struck by insurgency.

— With inputs from IANS