WITH CHIEF Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav announcing two more holidays for the minorities in the past two months, the list of public holidays continues to swell, thereby bringing the holiday politics in to focus yet again in Uttar Pradesh.
The latest additions to the list of public holidays include the birthday of Imam Hazrat Ali (observed on August 8) and Jamat-Ul-Vida (Alvida) to be observed on the last Friday of Ramzan on October 20. The two holidays had figured on the list of restricted holidays so far. The State government will now shift the two RH to the list of public holidays, ensuring closure of all government offices.
If the chief minister is convinced that adding more public holiday may fetch him more votes or consolidate the existing minority vote bank of the Samajwadi Party, he will certainly not hesitate in making more such announcements. His announcements have already been welcomed by the minority community which feels the chief minister has accepted the long pending demand of the community.
As the CM has made these announcements amid preparations for the ongoing urban local bodies polls, the move is considered as yet another bid to appease the minorities. Although the number of those to be directly benefited may be limited, the move is being considered as a goodwill gesture on the part of the chief minister during Ramzan. This has also been done with an eye on the Vidhan Sabha polls.
Significantly, this is not to assert that the CM has only targeted the minority community. He has obliged virtually each and every section of society that has demanded a holiday on a particular day. The CM had announced birthday of Maharshi Parashuram and birthday of Maharaja Agrasen to woo Brahmins and Vaishyas respectively.
His predecessors too had announced public holidays over the years. The birthdays of Maharshi Valmiki and Guru Govind Singh were declared public holidays in recent years. Chetichand had been declared a public holiday more than once to woo the Sindhi community. The “bhaiduj’ too has been declared a public holiday on popular demand.
With the latest announcements, the list of public holidays adds up to 35. This will mean closure of the State government offices. Out of these, six holidays are observed in offices that do not have a five-day week. There are also 18 restricted holidays and each employee is entitled to avail of two restricted holidays each year. The State government offices observing five-day week remain closed on Sundays (49) and Saturdays (48) as well. If casual leave, earned leave and medical leave is taken into account, an employee may remain on leave for 187 days. This comes to more than six months a year.
If successive chief ministers continue to announce public holidays at this pace, the number of working days will be reduced further. Hopefully that may induce the process of reversing or reducing the number of public holidays to make the government offices function.