Defying a directive from Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan not to organise ‘Onam’ celebrations during office hours, a pro-Congress employees outfit in the State Secretariat held the festivities beyond the time limit today as a mark of protest. At least five ‘Pookalams’ (floral carpets) were laid at various blocks in the Secretariat by the employees.
While some managed to finish the laying of carpets by 10 AM when the office time began, the pro-opposition Kerala Secretariat Employees Association completed it only by 10.45 AM.
Association President J Bency said they began laying the floral carpets at 8 AM and finished it by 10.45 AM. “We will work till 5.45 PM this evening to make up for the 45 minutes extra we took to lay the carpet,” he told reporters here, adding that the government directive was ‘unpractical.’
Yesterday, the employees had organised a tug of war contest during the lunch break.
The LDF government had recently issued a directive asking employees not to participate in ‘Onam’ celebrations during office hours in state-run offices and institutions, which was slammed by opposition parties and rival service organisations. The official Onam celebrations this year would begin on September 12 and the festivities should be conducted without causing any difficulties to public and affecting operations of the office, the government order had said.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had stated in a Facebook post last week that it was not appropriate for Onam festivities, including laying of pookalams (floral carpets), to be held in government institutions during office hours. He had also suggested that the celebrations could instead be held on holidays or after office hours. Opposition Congress-led UDF and BJP had criticised the Chief Minister’s direction to regulate Onam festivities.