With Ajmer Urs, Akhilesh’s please-all holiday list gets longer

ThursdayAt the shrine of Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti on Thursday.

In the caste-ridden political scene of Uttar Pradesh, successive goverments in the state have doled out public holidays to please different communities. The latest is Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav's announcement of a public holiday on the occasion of annual Urs at the dargah of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti at Ajmer on May 17.

During his 13-month tenure, Akhilesh has, in fact , announced three public holidays — Nishadraj Jayanti (April 5), Ajmer Urs (May 17) and Valmiki Jayanti (October 29).

At the same time, he has also scrapped three public holidays announced by his predecessor, Mayawati, namely the birth (March 9) and death (October 9) anniversaries of Kanshiram and the death anniversary (December 6) of B R Ambedkar.

The state also observes holidays to mark the birth anniversaries of Cheti Chand and Hazrat Ali , last Friday of Ramzan, Agrasen Jayanti, Chitragupta Jayanti and Goverdhan Puja and many others.

The total number of public holidays for 2013 in the state is now 33, including three national holidays. There is another list of 18 restricted holidays from which employees can choose any two. Another two holidays are declared by district magistrates in every district.

Incidentally, the government offices at the state headquarters observe a five-day week.

Obviously, the holiday announcements are aimed to keep particular communities happy. The demand for holiday on Ajmer Urs was made by several Muslim clerics. Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh always sends a chadar to Ajmer shrine and this year minister of state Riyaz Ahmed has already reached Ajmer where Urs has already started.

Interestingly, Rajasthan, where the shrine is situated, observes only two local holidays for the Urs in Ajmer. "Ajmer's DM has declared a two-day holiday (for Urs). It is not applicable for the whole of state," said Mahendra Tirthani, secretary, Samta Andolan Samiti of Rajasthan, which is a government employees organisation.

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