Opposition targets government over Christmas holiday

New Delhi


The issue of schools being asked to remain open on Christmas to mark "good governance day" was again raised in the Lok Sabha Wednesday, with the opposition parties staging a walkout over the issue.

The Congress also threatened to move a privilege motion against Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu and Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani for "misleading" the house.

The issue was raised during zero hour by the Congress's K.C. Venugopal, who said he had raised the issue in the last two days but the government's response has been misleading.

"Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu has informed the house that there is no circular. This is totally misleading," he said, adding that Naidu should apologise for misleading the country.

"Schools have been asked to send videos to show that students observed 'good governance day'. How can they send videos of the function without opening the school?" he asked.

Venugopal alleged that "the HRD ministry was running the agenda of the Sangh Parivar".

Responding to his remarks, Naidu said it was the Congress whose agenda was run according to one 'parivar' (family).

"People should not allow politicisation of this issue. This is a sensitive issue. Let us not mislead the country," he said.

"There is no disrespect for Christmas. Let us not try to create unnecessary tension in the country," Naidu added.

At this point, the opposition parties, including the Congress, staged a walkout from the house.

The Congress also threatened to move a privilege motion against Naidu and Irani, alleging that they misled the house over circulars issued to schools for events Dec 25.

Congress parliamentarian Jyotiraditya Scindia told the media outside parliament that the HRD ministry issued three circulars to the CBSE and Navodaya schools and universities, contrary to the government's claim that no circular to celebrate Dec 25 as 'good governance day' was issued to Navodaya schools.

He said if the ministers were found to be "misleading", his party would use "all options", including a privilege motion.

"The government has several times said in parliament and outside that no circular was issued. Today, we have received three circulars," he said.

He also asked the government to come clean and give an explanation on the issue.

"We asked the parliamentary affairs minister and human resource development minister to clarify whether such circulars were issued or not, because both the ministers have told the house that no such circular was issued by the government."

"If it is found that the ministers have said a wrong thing or have tried to mislead the house, then there should be action against it. The government is trying to mislead parliament on the issue, which is why we staged a walkout," Scindia said.

Asked whether the Congress would bring a privilege motion against the ministers, Scindia said: "We have all options and we will use it."

In separate circulars, the HRD ministry has asked Navodaya Vidyalayas, CBSE schools and the AICTE to hold events to mark Dec 25 as 'good governance day'.

However, the ministry clarified that all participation was voluntary and institutions need not be open on Christmas day. - IANS