“Christmas holiday stays,” the government said on Monday as it went into fire-fighting mode after an uproar within and outside Parliament over reports that schools may remain open on December 25 to observe the day as Good Governance Day to celebrate former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s birthday.
Three Cabinet Ministers were assigned to clear the air and the Union HRD Ministry put out a detailed clarification that was also posted on the websites of its various institutions dealing with schools.
While HRD Minister Smriti Irani took to Twitter, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley informed the Rajya Sabha and Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu told the Lok Sabha that media reports suggesting cancellation of the Christmas holiday were factually false. “Only an online essay competition on Good Governance Day is being organised,” Mr. Jaitley said, with Mr. Naidu qualifying that participation was voluntary.
Raising the issue in the Rajya Sabha, Sitaram Yechury (CPI-M) said: “On Gandhi Jayanti, you had a programme called Swachch Bharat; on Christmas Day, you want a programme on Good Governance. Then there is this entire campaign on religious conversions.... All this is a whole package that is very dangerous to the Constitutional guarantees that have been given.”