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Mahagathbandan Govt Denies Scrapping of Hindu Holidays, Calls it 'Rumour'

The opposition BJP alleged that the Bihar government slashed holidays for Hindu festivals and increased for Muslim festivals.
The opposition BJP alleged that the Bihar government slashed holidays for Hindu festivals and increased for Muslim festivals.

Image Courtesy: PTI

Patna: Amid controversy over the alleged scrapping of holidays for Hindu festivals in Bihar, the Mahagathbandan government led by Nitish Kumar on Wednesday refuted the reports of such reduced holidays and described them as mere rumours.

A day after the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) launched an aggressive campaign that the Kumar-led government slashed holidays for Hindu festivals and alleged that it increased holidays for Muslim festivals, Bihar Information and PR Minister Sanjay Kumar Jha denied the allegations. He said there was nothing like it in the 2024 calendar released by the state education department.

Jha, a senior Janata Dal-United (JD-U) leader considered close to Kumar, in a post on X (formerly Twitter), countered the BJP's campaign on the issue. He said in Hindi, “Those spreading rumours that Bihar government has scrapped holidays in schools on Mahashivratri, Janki Navmi, Shri Krishna Janmastami and other festivals should correct their information by looking at the list of holidays in the official calendar."

Jha further said that in 2024, Ramnavmi, Mahavir Jayanti, Samrat Ashok Jayanrti, and Vir Kunwar Singh Jayanti will be celebrated during the summer holidays, but schools will remain closed during these festivals as well.

According to Jha, the education department has issued separate holiday calendars for general schools and Urdu medium schools, keeping in mind the interest of most students of both school categories. But the total number of holidays in both calendars for the two types of schools is the same.

However, BJP leaders, including Union Minister Griraj Singh, former Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi, who is also a Rajya Sabha MP, Bihar BJP president Samrat Choudhary and others termed the Kumar-led government as anti-Hindu.

The BJP leaders accused Kumar of appeasing Muslims by increasing holidays on their festivals and hurting Hindus by reducing holidays on the festivals of their community.

Senior JD-U leader Neeraj Kumar, speaking to NewsClick, alleged that rumours were spread by a well-oiled misinformation campaign by BJP leaders on this issue that the Bihar government scrapped holidays for Hindu festivals and increased holidays for Muslim festivals. "There are holidays for all important Hindu festivals as usual," he stated.

Political watchers here said that BJP leaders have been attempting to project the Mahagathbandan government led by Kumar as anti-Hindu for the last few months. “There is nothing new in it. The latest campaign of the BJP is part of the same strategy to counter the effect of the caste survey report by playing the Hindu card. BJP will go on with such issues in the coming days ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections,” D M Diwakar, former director of the A N Sinha Institute of Social Studies, Patna, told NewsClick.

Diwakar added that the BJP is unable to challenge the ruling Mahagathbandan coalition and is always on the lookout to use its well-tested Hindu-Muslim issue in everything. According to him, "the main problem with the BJP is that the Mahagathbandan government first conducted a caste survey on its own in Bihar, and after that, released its report and socioeconomic data. This was followed by increasing reservation from 50% to 75%.” 

The BJP is trying its best to play the "communal card" to counter the impact of the caste survey report on the social support base of the ruling JD-U and RJD, two major allies of the Mahagathbandhan government, he said.

However, due to the political fallout of the report, the BJP and its allies are not opposing it anymore.

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