CHENNAI: A flash news across Tamil television channels on Monday evening that the Central government has shifted Pongal holiday from ‘compulsory holidays list’ to ‘restricted holidays list’ has made leaders of political parties fume in anger and, in one voice, they demanded compulsory holiday for Pongal festival.
AIADMK general secretary VK Sasikala, DMK working president MK Stalin, TNCC president S Thirunavukkarasar, MDMK general secretary Vaiko, CPM leader TK Rangarajan, Dravidar Kazhagam president K Veeramani and MMK leader MH Jawahirullah were among those who raised their voice on this issue. While Stalin announced an agitation on January 11, Veeramani announced agitation on January 12.
When contacted for clarification, a Central government official explained that “it is only for employees of essential services of Central government and not the State government employees”. He further said that for many years, Pongal has been on restricted holidays list of the Centre.
Last year, it was shifted to compulsory holidays list because Gandhi Jayanthi fell on a Sunday. Since 14 compulsory holidays had to be given in a year, apart from three national holidays, there were representations from some Central government employees associations to declare Pongal also a compulsory holiday and hence it was declared so, only for last year.
Further, only employees of essential services belonging to Railways, Postal, Central government hospitals, etc., comprising insignificant percentage would be affected this year. Even if the Centre declares compulsory holiday for Pongal this year, the employees of these essential services would be affected in a way as they work on shift system. They have to attend some or other shift. In a nutshell, it is a non-issue, the official added.