Indian police have launched a manhunt for the country’s only “happiness minister” after the state politician vanished when a court ordered his arrest over an alleged murder.
Lal Singh Arya, whose mandate is to put a smile on the faces of his 70 million constituents, is wanted in connection with the death of an opposition politician in 2009.
Madhya Pradesh became the first state in India to create a happiness ministry with the appointment of Arya in January. But the 53-year-old from the ruling Bharatiya Janata party disappeared after a court in Bhind district issued a non-bailable warrant for his arrest.
Police told AFP they were hopeful of finding Arya before he is scheduled to appear in court on 19 December.
“Police teams are still looking for him. We are positive that we will track him down by then,” said Supt Prashant Khare.
Police began searching for the minister on Tuesday after he was not found at his residence, the Press Trust of India reported.
The happiness ministry is modelled on the “gross national happiness” index used by India’s northerly neighbour Bhutan as a measure of its success.
Madhya Pradesh hopes to create its own happiness index and has promised social programmes including yoga, meditation and free religious pilgrimages for senior citizens.