Jaipur: In the middle of a row over BJP-ruled states imposing a meat ban for a Jain fasting festival, a government order in Rajasthan has stirred more controversy.
Days after announcing a meat ban, Rajasthan has ordered schools and colleges to prepare for blood donation camps on September 25, to mark the birth anniversary of Deen Dayal Upadhyaya, an icon of the BJP and its ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. The day coincides with the Muslim festival of Bakr-Id, which is a holiday, but will not be this time.
The Vasundhara Raje government's order instructs colleges not to declare a holiday on the day.
The order has upset Muslim groups, who say they will go to court against the move to cancel the holiday.
"This is a unconstitutional and a very fascist order," said Professor Salim Engineer of the Forum for Democracy and Communal Harmony. He alleged that the government's move was a clear attempt at 'saffronisation' - the term used by critics to describe pro-Hindu moves.
The government has reacted to the backlash by saying Muslim teachers will be allowed to take leave on that day if they wish. But Muslim groups point out that this has not been put on paper by the government.
This is the latest controversy surrounding an announcement made by Rajasthan's Education Department, which had earlier drawn criticism for making 'Surya namaskar', a yoga asana, compulsory in all government schools.
The state Higher Education Minister Kalicharan Saraf, whose department issued the latest announcement on the blood donation camps, said there was nothing wrong in the order. "How is it saffronisation? What does Deen Dayal have to do with saffronisation? Is his contribution to the country not to be counted at all?" he asked.