Manch seeks Prime Minister's intervention

Not satisfied with the Union government declaring Dr. B.R. Ambedkar's birth anniversary as a “closed” holiday every year, the B.R. Ambedkar Vikas Manch has sought Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's intervention to declare the birth anniversary as a “public” holiday under the Negotiable Instruments Act.

Manch general secretary R.K. Kain, in April 12 letter to Dr. Singh, said: “This Manch has been striving hard since 1990 to declare Ambedkar jayanti as a public holiday under Section 25 of the NI Act, but only “closed” holiday is declared by the Department of Personnel on year-to-year basis.”

Alleging that the Centre was biased against Dr. Ambedkar, the Manch said: “The birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, October 2, 1947, was declared as a holiday when Gandhiji was alive. Even his portrait — painted by Oswald Birley, a British artist in 1935 — was displayed in the Central Hall of the Parliament House on August 28, 1947. All things have happened against the moral and ethics and his teachings of Swadeshi Andolan. The government declared Gandhi's birthday under Section 25 of the NI Act without any demand from public or even from the Congress itself.”

Similarly, the birth anniversary of Dr. Ambedkar should also be declared a public holiday under Section 25 of the NI Act without any request to the government to extend it annually.

Reply to RTI activist

Meanwhile, in reply to Right to Information activist Subash Chandra Agrawal's query why Dr. Ambedkar birth anniversary was not being declared as a public holiday, the Centre said: “As per the existing policy, the Central government offices observe 16 holidays in a year. These include 3 national holidays, namely the Republic Day, Independence Day and Mahatma Gandhi's birthday and remaining 13 holidays relate to religious and social occasions.”

The Centre said: “Dr. Ambedkar's birthday is not one of the regular holidays observed every year. As a policy also, birthday of no national leader, except that of Mahatma Gandhi, is being observed as a regular closed holiday. As an exception to this, the government has earlier declared additional public holiday (also under the NI Act) on the birth centenary of prominent leaders like Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Guru Rabindranath Tagore, Lala Lajpat Rai, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, Deshbandhu Chittaranjan Das and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, as also the 125th birth anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore, 99th birth anniversary of Nehru and 89th birth anniversary of Dr. Ambedkar.” However, since 1990, this occasion was being declared as a closed holiday without being listed as a holiday for all Central government offices, the reply said.

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