MESS UP IN CMO ON VAISAKHI HOLIDAY
SELF-GOAL: Vaisakhi holiday was never scrapped, Amarinder govt simply refused to call it holiday for Vaisakhi
- kanwar manjit singh
SELF-GOAL: Vaisakhi holiday was never scrapped, Amarinder govt simply refused to call it holiday for Vaisakhi



SOMEONE IN THE PUNJAB GOVERNMENT messed it up big time, and lazy journalism was never expected to catch on to the simplest of facts. Result: the Amarinder Singh government was forced to make a somersault after first scrapping the holiday on Vaisakhi, which falls on April 14, and then restoring it after scathing public criticism as well as some ritual fulmination from the Akali Dal.

While most political pundits agreed that the Punjab Government's move to reduce the number of public holidays from 37 to 18 would have received wider public acceptance, it was the scrapping of the Vaisakhi holiday that triggered a backlash and riled not just the Sikhs but most Punjabis since Vaisakhi is a very syncretic festival.

Someone in the Punjab Government seemed to have worked overtime to bring a bad name to Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and his CMO, since scrapping of the holiday on Vaisakhi would not have resulted in an extra working day.
 

The fact is that April 14, the day of Vaisakhi, was in any case declared a gazetted holiday. The same notification dated December 27, 2017 that dropped Vaisakhi as a public holiday from the list of holidays also listed the birthday of Dr. B.R.Ambedkar on April 14 as a full-fledged public holiday across Punjab.

All that the Punjab Government had to do was to include Vaisakhi in the same column. The day was declared a holiday in any case.
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Someone in the Punjab Government seemed to have worked overtime to bring a bad name to Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and his CMO, since scrapping of the holiday on Vaisakhi would not have resulted in an extra working day.
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"It is clear that at some level, some senior official either deliberately created this problem or was sleeping on the job. People fending off criticism from political opponents and the media should have seen this coming even before the notification was issued and should have warned Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh about the faux pas. Instead, they chose to allow the situation to go out of hand," said a very senior official who works in close coordination with the CMO.

More than two officials of the Public Relations Department claimed they had brought the fact to the notice of a responsible person in the CMO even before the first notification was issued but he ignored the warning and allowed the Amarinder government to land in this mess.

"I find this strange that effectively, the Punjab Government announced a holiday on April 14, 2018, and then said it was not for Vaisakhi but only for Dr. Ambedkar's birthday! It seemed like an attempt to annoy and irritate the Sikh community. When we were declaring a holiday on that day, why not also call it a holiday for Vaisakhi?" said a top official.
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Coming close on the heels of criticism the government had to face when it used a morphed depiction of tenth Sikh guru, Sri Guru Gobind Singh ji, showing him cloaked in Napoleon’s clothes and riding astride Napoleon’s horse, the Vaisakhi holiday controversy has severely damaged Captain Amarinder Singh’s reputation as someone well connected with the Sikh psyche. 
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After getting much egg on the face, the Amarinder Government was forced to declare April 14, February 14 and December 12, 2018, as gazetted public holidays for Vaisakhi, Maha Shivrarti and martyrdom day of Guru Teg Bahadur Ji, respectively.
 

When Punjab Today spoke to a senior Akali Dal leader about the April 14 mess up, he said they had immediately noticed it. "But why should we tell the government about it if they were too keen to gift us an issue on the platter?" he chuckled.

No wonder that the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president, Sukhbir Singh Badal, capitalised on the faux pas, saying only a Congress government could scrap the holy day to mark the creation of the Khalsa from the official list of holidays in Punjab.

Coming close on the heels of criticism the government had to face when it used a morphed depiction of tenth Sikh guru, Sri Guru Gobind Singh ji, showing him cloaked in Napoleon’s clothes and riding astride Napoleon’s horse, the Vaisakhi holiday controversy has severely damaged Captain Amarinder Singh’s reputation as someone well connected with the Sikh psyche. 

For a politician who resigned from Parliament and Congress in protest against Operation Bluestar, his advisors have done a remarkable job to paint him as a CM who is least bothered about depiction of a Sikh Guru astride Napoleon’s horse Marengo and as someone who cares two hoots about scrapping a holiday for the Khalsa Sajna Divas of Vaisakhi.

It was natural for Sukhbir Singh Badal to milk the issue by recalling that "the same Congress party was responsible for attacking Sri Harmandar Sahib with tanks besides perpetrating the worst genocide against the Sikh community in 1984. Only such a party could scrap the holy day of Baisakhi from the list of government holidays.”

Akali Dal's spokesperson Dr Daljit Singh Cheema had called the scrapping of Vaisakhi holiday as "totally dictatorial, irrational and insensitive step, taken without taking the stakeholders into confidence.”

"I seriously propose that the day the impugned notification was issued on December 27 should be declared as a Fools' Day holiday in at least our department so that it serves as a reminder to officials who rush to defend the government in the media instead of looking at the notification and closing stupid gaps," said a mid-level functionary in the CMO.

In fact, the Amarinder Singh government could have actually declared an additional gazetted public holiday on March 2 for Hola Mohalla, without having to shut down offices for any additional day. Hola Mohalla invariably falls on the same day as Holi which is already included in the gazetted public holiday.

While Hola Mohalla in 2018 will fall on March 2, and has been listed among Restricted Public Holidays, Holi is also on the same day and will be a gazetted public holiday. The situation was the same for both festivals in 2017 (March 13) and 2016 (March 24).
 

Disclaimer : PunjabToday.in and other platforms of the Punjab Today group strive to include views and opinions from across the entire spectrum, but by no means do we agree with everything we publish. Our efforts and editorial choices consistently underscore our authors' right to the freedom of speech. However, it should be clear to all readers that individual authors are responsible for the information, ideas or opinions in their articles, and very often, these do not reflect the views of PunjabToday.in or other platforms of the group. Punjab Today does not assume any responsibility or liability for the views of authors whose work appears here.

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