The Uttar Pradesh government is likely to declare a holiday on October 31 to mark Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s birth anniversary in a likely move to woo the Patel (Kurmi) community ahead of the elections to 403-member Uttar Pradesh assembly due in early 2017.
As Kurmis, an OBC community, which constitute nearly 7% of the population and regards Sardar Patel as their icon, the Samajwadi Party “feels” it would help them in wooing them in the state and they could counter the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is going all out to encash Patel’s name before the elections.
Bundelkhand’s slain dacoit Dadua’s brother and former MP Bal Kumar Patel and his son, Samajwadi Party MLA from Patti (Pratapgarh) Ram Singh, also met chief minister Akhilesh Yadav with a request to declare the day as a public holiday.
“He (CM) was of the view that holiday should be declared and asked us to give our demand in writing,” Bal Kumar said.
In his letter to the chief minister, Ram Singh has said Sardar Patel’s contribution towards freedom struggle cannot be ignored and requested for a holiday as the “SP has always honoured great personalities”.
If the decision is taken, the number of official holidays in the state will reach 39.
“With 39 public holidays a year, there has been a 50% increase in the state government’s list of public holidays in the past 10 years,” noted a senior official.
The SP government had earlier declared a holiday on December 6, the death anniversary of Bhim Rao Ambedkar, which was seen as an attempt to appease Dalits.
It had also declared holidays on the birth anniversaries of former prime minister Chandrashekhar (April 17), Maharana Pratap (May 9), Maharishi Kashyap and Maharishi Nishadraj Jayanti (April 5), and Hazrat Ajmeri Garib Nawaj Urs (April 26) besides others.
The Akhilesh government has also declared June 24 as a public holiday in UP to mark socialist leader Karpoori Thakur’s birth anniversary.