Panaji: Controversy erupted over scrapping by Goa government of Gandhi Jayanti on October 2 from the list of public holidays but Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar later said it could be an act of "mischief" or a "typing mistake".
Gandhi Jayanti, the birth anniversary of the Father of the Nation, was not marked as a holiday in the current year's calender, released yesterday, triggering strong reaction with Congress terming it as an "anti-national" act.
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.
Strongly opposing the BJP-ruled state's decision, senior Congress leader P C Chacko said, "BJP's mindset is a very sick mindset. ... Can any state government take a decision like this? This kind of decision they have taken is anti-national."
He said the central government "should immediately direct the state government to correct this. I am still in shock after hearing about this. No government in India has the right to do that. This is a very senseless decision which they have taken."
His party colleague and Congress spokesman Anand Sharma also said no state government can do it because it is a national holiday.
"They can't do it. Gandhi is the father of nation. Even last year children were asked to go to school on October 2," Sharma said.
RSS refused to be drawn into the controversy but said the number of holidays in the country should come down for improved work culture.
"I don't know the reasons for this decision. We will see why it happened. But, according to a survey, people in India hardly work for 150-155 days a year on account of holidays. Their number must come down for better work culture," RSS General Secretary Suresh Joshi said in Nagpur when asked about the Goa government's decision.
Seeking to douse the angry reactions, the Chief Minister said,"it could be a typing mistake. It is not an intentional mistake."
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.
The list has retained all other holidays.
Independent opposition legislator Vijay Sardesai said, "Is this nationalismor the BJP's sense of civility?"
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.