In a decision that could spark nationwide outrage, the BJP government in Goa has dropped Gandhi Jayanti on October 2 from the list of public holidays.
Gandhi Jayanti, the birth anniversary of the Father of the Nation, has not been marked as a holiday in the current year’s calender, released yesterday.
The decision has triggered strong reactions from a section of legislators in the state.
Interestingly, Gandhi Jayanti disappeared from the list of commercial and industrial holidays released on a day when the Mahatma’s statue was unveiled in London.
Gandhi Jayanti has been celebrated all over the country for decades, with the entire nation gratefully recalling the services of the Mahatma, who led the struggle against the British rule through non-violent means.
Though the government is yet to formally clarify the rationale behind the decision, a senior official from the General Administration Department said it had the approval of government.
Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar was not available for comment on the issue.
Independent opposition legislator Vijay Sardesai said it was all the more surprising that dropping of the Gandhi Jayanti came just the day after the Mahatma’s statue was unveiled at Parliament Square in London.
"It is strange that back in the country his birthday is being dropped from the list of holidays. Is this nationalism or the BJP’s sense of civility?" he said.
The list which was released yesterday has retained all other holidays.
Condemning the decision, Goa’s lone Rajya Sabha member Shantaram Naik said BJP leaders claim they hold Gandhi in high esteem and started worshipping him in recent times, but actually denigrate him on every available opportunity.
Naik alleged that in the name of ‘Swachh Bharat’, BJP perhaps wants to obliterate the name of Gandhi in whatever form it exists, adding that he would raise the issue in Rajya Sabha tomorrow.
When Manohar Parrikar was Chief Minister of Goa, the government had sought to scrap a few public holidays, including Gandhi Jayanti, Good Friday and Old Goa Feast, but had to give up the move due to public outcry.