Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has rejected the demand of several members of the Bihar Legislative Council, especially those from the ruling Janata Dal United (JDU), for a government holiday on the occasion of Guru Purnima. Instead, he has instructed them to work two additional hours on the day -- falling on July 16 -- as a mark of respect for their gurus.
The festival, traditionally celebrated by Hindus, Buddhists and Jains, aims to honour gurus (or teachers) who have dedicated their lives to enlightening people with little or no monetary expectations.
The demand for a government holiday was raised by councillor Sanjiv Kumar Singh, after which his colleague Ranvir Nandan seconded it. It was when Mr Nandan began reciting Sanskrit verses in support of the idea that Nitish Kumar rushed in from his chamber. "This attitude amazes me," he told the legislative council. "The demand is, of course, rejected. In fact, I think we should work two additional hours on Guru Purnima as a mark of respect for our gurus."
The Chief Minister then went on to ask the lawmakers if they knew of any guru who has taught them to sit at home with nothing to do. "Who will take classes if teachers do not come to class? And you are seeking leave using your gurus as an excuse... what kind of students does that make you?" he asked.
The BJP, which jointly rules Bihar with Nitish Kumar's JDU, has often laid emphasis on working even on public holidays. Soon after coming to power after the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Prime Minister Narendra Modi instructed his ministers to avoid taking leaves and be prepared to work even on public holidays. He also slotted some major government events on holidays and weekends.
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