Bengaluru: In the face of mounting pressure from Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Janata Dal (Secular) leaders demanding declaration of a public holiday in Karnataka on Monday, chief minister Siddaramaiah reaffirmed the government’s decision not to grant leave for government offices and schools on the day of the consecration of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya.
Siddaramaiah, addressing the media in Tumakuru, clarified that his government would not declare a statewide holiday. “Tomorrow (Monday), I am inaugurating a new Ram temple constructed in Mahadevapura constituency in Bengaluru,” the chief minister said.
He added that the muzrai department will conduct special rituals at all state-run temples during the Ram Temple consecration event in Ayodhya. When asked again about the demand for a holiday, he reiterated, “Won’t announce any holiday.”
Earlier in the day, Leader of Opposition R Ashok formally requested the chief minister to announce a holiday on Monday. JD(S) leader H D Kumaraswamy shared a similar sentiment, advocating for a public holiday to honour the consecration of the Ram Temple.
“Seven crore Kannadigas are demanding leave. Even AAP has announced a half-day holiday in Delhi, so why has Siddaramaiah not announced?… Everywhere in Karnataka, the police are threatening the ‘karsevaks’. I will write a letter to the CM demanding leave for seven crore Kannadigas to celebrate Rama,” Ashok said.
BJP state president B Y Vijayendra and Bangalore South MP Tejasvi Surya continued to advocate for a holiday on January 22. Vijayendra pointed out that the Union government had already declared a half-day for its offices on that day, emphasising the significance of the event for millions of Hindus.
“The Union government has already declared January 22 as a half-day for its offices. Crores of Hindus are looking forward to the event. Many of them may want to visit a nearby temple or watch the proceedings at home. For their convenience, a holiday must be declared,” Vijayendra said.
Surya said 14 Indian states have already declared January 22 as a holiday. “Kannadigas have a significant role in the Ram Temple right from construction to the sculptor of the idol. Karnataka is the land of Hanuman. When the entire state is celebrating, the government doesn’t want to declare a holiday,” Surya said, adding that hundreds of schools had approached his office seeking a holiday.
“This government is behaving like it is anti-Rama. The CM is behaving like a hater of Rama,” Surya added.
The muzrai department had earlier directed over 33,000 state-run temples in the state to offer special prayers on January 22. Deputy chief minister DK Shivakumar said there is a need for separation of politics from religious matters.
“Even before others could tell us, the muzrai department has directed for special pujas in muzrai temples. Whatever rituals and pujas have to be conducted in temples, they will be done,” he said.
“There is Ram in chief minister Siddaramaiah’s name and Shiva in my name. There is no need for others to preach to us or bring pressure on us. We will execute our responsibility. There should be religion in politics, but politics should not be there in religion,” he added.