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VHP, govt lock horns over listing 14 festivals as restricted holidays

The VHP threatened to hold state-wide demonstrations from Monday against the state government if it does not withdraw its order declaring 14 Hindu festivals, including Dussehra and Diwali, as restricted holidays.

dehradun Updated: Dec 17, 2017 20:21 IST
Deep Joshi
Deep Joshi
Hindustan Times
Uttarakhand News,VHP,restricted holidays
The state secretariat is buzzing with the government’s decision on holidays. (HT File Photo)

The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) on Sunday threatened to hold state-wide demonstrations from Monday against the state government if it does not withdraw its order declaring 14 Hindu festivals, including Dussehra and Diwali, as restricted holidays.

The organisation will submit memorandums to Governor KK Paul and President Ramnath Kovind on Monday in connection with the issue.

The Trivendra Singh Rawat government on December 15 issued an order declaring 14 Hindu festivals as restricted holidays. Out of the 14 festivals, half-a-dozen are major Hindu festivals like Dussehra, Karwa-chauth, Dhanteras, Diwali, Bhaiya Dooj and Chath puja.

“We will submit memorandums to the governor and the president of India urging them to prevail upon the state government to withdraw its order declaring 14 Hindu festivals as restricted holidays,” said VHP state unit secretary Sanjay, who goes by his first name.

“Announcing such major Hindu festivals as restricted holidays is clearly against the Hindu sentiment,” Sanjay said warning that if the controversial order was not withdrawn the Hindu society would stop voting the ruling BJP in the coming elections.

“It will automatically stop,” Sanjay said when asked if the volunteers of the VHP and other Hindu nationalist organisations too would stop supporting the BJP in the coming polls.

The BJP government, however, ruled out the possibility of withdrawing its controversial order. “There is no question of withdrawing the order because it has only declared some (Hindu) festivals as restricted holidays,” said the chief minister’s media in-charge Darshan Singh Rawat.

“That clearly means (state government) employees have been given a choice whether they wish to join duty or celebrate festivals during those restricted holidays,” he said.

Darshan Singh said the order in question aimed to strengthen the work culture in the state government. “As of now, out of 365 days in a year, there are more than 150 gazetted holidays, which definitely have an adverse impact on the governance,” he said.

VHP leader Sanjay, however, warned that if the BJP government did not withdraw its order, his group would hold state-wide anti-government demonstrations.

“If there is no reaction forthcoming from the state government we (VHP) will hold state-wide demonstrations from Monday,” he said.

Sanjay further said all nationalist organisations, including the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS), would participate in the anti-government demonstrations.

“We will not only hold state-wide demonstrations but also burn effigies of the state government,” he said dubbing the government’s move as anti-Hindu.

Sanjay also ruled out the possibility of VHP leaders holding talks with the CM on the issue of his government’s controversial order.

“That is not our job. Our job pertains to society,” Sanjay said. “Supposing we visit his (CM) office and he refuses to talk to us, so why should we take such an undue initiative?” he said.

Sanjay said even the Congress did not dare to put the Hindu religious festivals in the category of restricted holidays.

“I don’t know,” he said when asked what he thought the chief minister, a former RSS pracharak, wished to achieve by issuing such an order.

Darshan Singh, however, said the issue would be resolved by holding talks with VHP leaders.

First Published: Dec 17, 2017 20:21 IST