Sunburn dance fest triggers tandav in BJP

    By Mayabhushan Nagvenkar, IANS,

    Panaji : Sunburn, arguably India’s largest electronic dance music festival held in Goa annually, has triggered a ‘tandav’ of sorts within the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party here.

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    After the issue of dance bars exposed a rift in the saffron party last month, the lucrative Sunburn festival has virtually split the BJP into two camps of legislators: those who support the three-day music and dance fiesta and others who have a laundry list of reasons to oppose it.

    Beginning with Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, who is obviously miffed after the festival’s promoters alleged they were “ripped off” by the state government while granting licences. Even the chief minister’s office was brought into the issue.

    “I have seen the email by the organisers. I am not going to sign on any file for the festival. Either they prove the allegations or apologise,” an angry Parrikar told reporters in Candolim earlier this week. He also said that if the Sunburn promoters prove the corruption charge, he would take action against those involved in the malpractice.

    Parrikar further said that he had taken note of several irregularities which were taking place at the music and dance event, which included smoking in public places.

    “In spite of a promise there would be no smoking, 800 cases of cigarette smoking were booked by the police (last year) over three days. If any other kind of smoking was there, I don’t know. I will not allow this,” Parrikar further said.

    On the other side of the fence within the BJP is Michael Lobo, a legislator from Calangute, in whose constituency the event is held annually and who has been backing it.

    “It brings a lot of tourists to Goa and gives business opportunities to many like restaurateurs and taxi drivers,” Lobo said.

    Tourism Minister Dilip Parulekar claims that the event, which is held on the Candolim beach, which is already choc-o-bloc with tourists in December, was a menace as far as traffic was concerned and that the government would not in any way allow the event to be held at the venue where it was being held for the last several years.

    “Sunburn should not be held at Candolim. It is not feasible. The roads are narrow, it causes traffic issues as well as makes it difficult for tourists and local residents to move about,” Parulekar said.

    While the saffron law makers squabble over the future of Sunburn, Advocate General Atmaram Nadkarni, who was appointed by the BJP-led coalition government, has added a conspiratorial twist to the issue.

    In the high court earlier this week, while responding to a petition dealing with coastal zone management affairs, Nadkarni said that there was an international conspiracy to move musical events like Sunburn away from Goa.

    “Musical events help the state economy. Sunburn attracts national and international tourists. Tourism-dependent countries like Thailand are trying to take away music festivals from here,” Nadkarni said.

    The Sunburn music festival, a Percept property, was first started in Goa in 2007 and has since been held annually in December with thousands of youngsters and music lovers flocking from all over the country to the venue, which has hosted some of the best EDM performers.

    Its organisers have already gone on record as saying that they were trying to move the festival from Candolim because of infrastructure issues.

    “We cannot grow here (Candolim). And it gets very congested. So we are scouting for alternative venues in north Goa,” Sunburn promoter Harinder Singh had said last month after meeting the tourism minister.

    Percept, however, has not yet commented on the charges made by Parrikar as well as Parulekar over the alleged “ripping off” which the company had to suffer during the permission issuing process.

    A questionnaire sent to the entertainment company on the issue has elicited no response.

    (Mayabhushan Nagvenkar can be contacted at [email protected])