Lucknow: Known to witness use of money and muscle power for political gains, Uttar Pradesh is now observing a new trend ahead of Assembly elections, that of ‘holiday politics'.
In an apparent bid to woo the massive chunk of over 20 lakh government employees, their family members and the Dalit community, the Samajwadi Party government has declared a holiday on December 6, the death anniversary of Bhim Rao Ambedkar.
With this, the number of official holidays in Uttar Pradesh has reached 37, much to the delight of employees in various government departments.
With 37 public holidays a year, there has been a 50 per cent increase in the state government's list of public holidays in the past 10 years, a senior official said.
The Akhilesh Yadav government had earlier declared holiday on the birth anniversary of former Prime Minister Chandrashekhar (April 17), Maharishi Kashyap and Maharshi Nishadraj Jayanti (April 5), and Hazrat Ajmeri Garib Nawaj Urs (April 26) besides others.
The SP government has also declared June 24 as public holiday in UP to mark socialist leader Karpoori Thakur's birth anniversary. Thakur, former Chief Minister of Bihar, was one of the socialist leaders close to Jaya Prakash Narayan who spearheaded the movement for ‘Total Revolution' as well as protests against the Emergency. Elections for the 403-member Uttar Pradesh Assembly are due in early 2017.
The Samajwadi Party had during its previous rule in 2004 slashed the list of public holidays to 24. However, successive state governments altered the list of holidays to pursue their political agenda by adding or deleting death and birth anniversaries of ideologues of political parties as per their convenience and with an eye on vote bank.
In 2008, the erstwhile 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.
Defending the decision, a Samajwadi Party legislator said it was important to celebrate the lives of stalwarts as a holiday to inspire people.
But, opposing the new trend of ‘holiday politics' and its adverse effect in the functioning of government officers, senior IPS Ambitabh Thakur has filed a PIL before the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court.
The petition alleged that ‘holiday politics' was being played in UP for the last few years by successive governments. The PIL is likely to come up for hearing tomorrow. Thakur has prayed in the PIL that such type of declaration of holidays was affecting governance, and hence it needed to be regulated immediately.
A definite holiday policy should be framed and should be practiced, Thakur said, alleging that some holidays were being declared solely on political considerations.