CHENNAI: Tamil Nadu Chief Minister O. Panneerselvam on Tuesday urged the central government to include Pongal festival in the central government lists of compulsory and also “additional” holidays.
Besides a compulsory holiday, an additional day for Pongal, the harvest festival, may also be included in the list of 12 “additional” holidays so that a holiday dedicated to Tamil poet Thiruvalluvar could also be declared in Tamil Nadu, the Chief Minister said.
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Panneerselvam on Tuesday said the central government notifies a list of holidays with 14 days falling under the category “compulsory holiday”.
“It is seen that Pongal finds place only in the list of 12 optional holidays. As a result, Pongal is not a compulsory holiday for Central Government offices in Tamil Nadu,” Panneerselvam said.
“This apparent diminution in the importance accorded to Pongal for the past several years has created disquiet and an impression that an important festival of Tamil Nadu has been ignored by the central government,” Panneerselvam added.
Political parties in Tamil Nadu also have slammed the BJP-led central government for not including the festival in its holiday list. Pongal will be celebrated across Tamil Nadu on January 14.
DMK leader M.K. Stalin had announced agitation on Wednesday.
However, Bharatiya Janata Party’s Tamil Nadu unit President Tamilisai Soundararajan said the situation now was no different from what was there when the DMK was sharing power at the Centre as a part of United Progressive Alliance (UPA).
She said the DMK now was protesting for the sake of protesting.
PMK leader and former Union minister Anbumani Ramadoss also demanded inclusion of Pongal in the central government’s compulsory holiday list.