Pressure grows on CM to declare Chhath holiday



New Delhi: A day after Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit rejected demands to declare public holiday on November 1 on the occasion of Chhath Puja, Delhi Congress president Jai Prakash Agarwal on Sunday asked her to review the decision considering the sentiments of 40 lakh poorvanchalis residing in the city.

Agarwal, who is not known to have a very cordial relationship with Dikshit, sent a letter to her saying the government should declare a public holiday on November 1.

"I have written to Sheila Dikshit requesting her to declare a public holiday on November 1. We have to respect the sentiments of the poorvanchalis living here. BJP has raised the issue and we cannot allow them to do politics on this matter," he said.

Dikshit had yesterday rejected a plea by Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to declare holiday on Chhath Puja day, saying her government has already exhausted the prescribed limit for gazetted holidays.

In reply to Kumar's letter, Dikshit wrote back to the Bihar Chief Minister saying her government had declared restricted holiday on the occasion of Chhath puja in 2001 and the same is being continued thereafter.

The city BJP has also been demanding that the Chhath puja day should be declared a gazetted holiday and accused the Delhi government of being insensitive towards people from eastern region.

Agarwal said BJP has raised the issue to gain political millage in the municipal polls due early next year and that is why he has shot off the letter to Dikshit.

"If the government wants, it can declare a holiday on that day," he said.

Meanwhile, the Delhi BJP has termed Dikshit as "despotic" for her refusal to declare a public holiday on Chhath puja day.

"The chief minister has forgotten all democratic values due to her despotic behaviour. She treats people of Delhi on separate issues in different ways. Her behaviour with poorvanchalis in Delhi has always been of neglect and discrimination," Delhi BJP president Vijender Gupta said.

In his letter, Bihar Chief Minister had said, "Lakhs of people from Bihar, Jharkhand and eastern part of Uttar Pradesh stay in the national capital and they will offer prayer to the Sun during 'Chhath' puja...It will give me immense pleasure if the Delhi government declares November 1 as public holiday."

PTI