In an apparent move to woo “Thakur” (Rajput) community, the Uttar Pradesh government is contemplating announcing a holiday on Maharana Pratap’s birth anniversary on May 9. The decision has all the potential to give the Opposition fresh fodder to target ruling SP for indulging in what they allege is blatant “holiday politics”.
Thakurs account for over eight per cent voters and have much influence in over 20 out of the 80 Lok Sabha constituencies in the state. The proposed move by SP government is seen in the political circles in the context of the 2017 Assembly elections.
If the Akhilesh Yadav government goes ahead with its decision, the number of official holidays in UP will reach 38. “With 38 public holidays a year, there has been a 50 per cent increase in the state government’s list of public holidays in the last 10 years,” said a senior official.
The move to have a holiday on May 9 was initiated by Thakur legislators in SP who, during the recent celebration of former Prime Minister Chandra Shekar’s birth anniversary on April 17, had put forth the demand before party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav.
“SP legislators want the government to declare holiday on Mahrana Pratap’s birth anniversary. I have apprised CM of their views. We expect that a decision in this regard will be taken soon,” SP state general Secretary and Cabinet minister Arvind Singh Gope said.
Besides Gope, SP has a battery of Thakur leaders, including Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhaiya (Independent), Abhay Singh, Rajkishore Singh, Neeraj Shekar and Yashwant Singh.
The SP government, earlier, had declared a holiday on December 6 — the death anniversary of Bhim Rao Ambedkar, which was seen as an attempt appease Dalits. It had also declared holiday on the birth anniversary of former PM Chandrashekhar (April 17), Maharishi Kashyap and Maharshi Nishadraj Jayanti (April 5) and Hazrat Ajmeri Garib Nawaj Urs (April 26).
The government has also declared June 24 as public holiday to mark socialist leader Karpoori Thakur’s birth anniversary. Thakur, a former chief minister of Bihar, was a socialist
leader close to Jaya Prakash Narayan who spearheaded the movement for ‘Total Revolution’ and protests against the Emergency.
Defending the decision, a SP leader said it was important to celebrate the lives of stalwarts as a holiday to inspire people.
The SP, during its previous rule in 2004, had slashed the list of public holidays to 24. However, successive state governments pursued their political agenda by adding or deleting death and birth anniversaries of ideologues of parties.
In 2008, then Mayawati government had declared birth and death anniversary of party founder Kanshiram on March 15 and October 9 as public
holidays. However, when the SP returned to power in 2012, these holidays were removed from the list.
Opposing the new trend of ‘holiday politics’ and its adverse effect in the functioning of government officers, senior IPS officer Ambitabh Thakur had filed a PIL before the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court with is under consideration.
‘Holiday politics’: HC seeks govt response, next hearing on May 6
The Allahabad High Court bench here on Thursday granted a week’s time to UP government to file objections to a PIL against alleged “holiday politics” in the state and fixed May 6 as the next date of hearing in the matter.
The PIL filed by senior IPS officer Amitabh Thakur alleged that the politics of granting public holidays to woo voters was being played out in UP for the last few years by successive state governments.
The petitioner’s counsel Ashok Pandey challenged a circular issued by the then central government in 1957, empowering the states to declare a public holiday and pleaded to amend the PIL by filing an application to this effect.
On behalf of the state government, Additional Advocate General Bulbul Godiyal sought time to file objections to the PIL.
A division bench of Justices Shree Narain Shukla and Rajan Roy, while according the state government a week’s time to file objections, fixed May 6 as the next date of hearing in the matter.
The Samajwadi Party government now wants to declare May 9 as Maharana Pratap birth anniversary. If declared, it will be 38th public holiday in state. – ENS