In the caste-ridden political scene of Uttar Pradesh,successive goverments in the state have doled out public holidays to please different communities. The latest is Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadavs announcement of a public holiday on the occasion of annual Urs at the dargah of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti at Ajmer on May 17.
During his 13-month tenure,Akhilesh has,in fact ,announced three public holidays Nishadraj Jayanti (April 5),Ajmer Urs (May 17) and Valmiki Jayanti (October 29).
At the same time,he has also scrapped three public holidays announced by his predecessor,Mayawati,namely the birth (March 9) and death (October 9) anniversaries of Kanshiram and the death anniversary (December 6) of B R Ambedkar.
The state also observes holidays to mark the birth anniversaries of Cheti Chand and Hazrat Ali ,last Friday of Ramzan,Agrasen Jayanti,Chitragupta Jayanti and Goverdhan Puja and many others.
The total number of public holidays for 2013 in the state is now 33,including three national holidays. There is another list of 18 restricted holidays from which employees can choose any two. Another two holidays are declared by district magistrates in every district.
Incidentally,the government offices at the state headquarters observe a five-day week.
Obviously,the holiday announcements are aimed to keep particular communities happy. The demand for holiday on Ajmer Urs was made by several Muslim clerics. Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh always sends a chadar to Ajmer shrine and this year minister of state Riyaz Ahmed has already reached Ajmer where Urs has already started.
Interestingly,Rajasthan,where the shrine is situated,observes only two local holidays for the Urs in Ajmer. Ajmers DM has declared a two-day holiday (for Urs). It is not applicable for the whole of state, said Mahendra Tirthani,secretary,Samta Andolan Samiti of Rajasthan,which is a government employees organisation.
Akhilesh had also announced a public holiday on April 5 to mark the birth anniversary of Nishadraj during a sammelan of 17 backward castes held at party office on February 16.
Public holidays on the occasion of birth anniversary of great personalities are necessary so that communities can celebrate and remember their leaders, he had stated while announcing the holiday.
The announcement was a tactical move by the SP to please the 17 most backward classes who are mainly branches of the fishing community. Maharaja Nishadraj Jayanti holiday is not observed in any part of the country. It is only in Uttar Pradesh. We are thankful to the SP government for fulfilling our pending demand, said Rajpal Kahsyap,Chairman,UP Fisheries Development Corporation.
Akhilesh also included Valmiki Jayanti in the list of gazetted holidays from restricted holidays. Valmiki is a Dalit icon and with the announcement of this holiday,the SP can boast of working for the welfare of Dalit community.
A demand for public holiday on Rana Prataps birth anniversary has also been raised in a letter to the Chief Minister by Minister of Stamps and Registration Raja Aridaman Singh for fulfilling the aspirations of the Kshatriya community.
As chief miniser,Mulayam Singh Yadav,too,gave holiday gifts to various communities. These included holidays on Hazrat Alis birth anniversary to please the Shias,Agrasen Jayanti for the trading community,Parshuram Jayanti for Brahmins,and Chitragupta Jayanti for the kayastha community. After seven years,these holidays remain unchanged with no government wanting to upset any community.