War of words between Congress, BJP over working day on Easter in Manipur

The Manipur government which had declared that March 31, which is Easter Sunday, as a "working day" retracted its order following protests by the Christian community.

Thiruvananthapuram: The Manipur government’s decision to declare Easter as a working day there on Thursday led to a war of words between the Congress and the BJP in Kerala which has a significant Christian population.

In the morning, Congress Working Committee member Shashi Tharoor and Leader of Opposition in the state assembly V D Satheesan condemned the Manipur government’s decision by terming it as “disrespectful” and “divisive”.

Satheesan also called the BJP “wolves in sheep’s clothing” for their act of bringing cakes to Christian homes in Kerala when on the other hand their government in Manipur was taking such decisions.

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He also pointed out that Prime Minister Narendra Modi who makes frequent visits to Kerala was yet to go to Manipur even once after violence broke out there.

Hitting back at the Congress, after the Manipur government retracted its controversial order, senior BJP leader Prakash Javadekar alleged that the grand old party was “raking up falsehoods” as it has no issues to raise.

“The Manipur government has issued notification that tomorrow 29th Good Friday and 31 Easter Sunday will be a holiday. Congress has no issues. Therefore they are raking up falsehoods. Congress and Communist should now tell when they will condemn Hamas attack and terror attack in Russia,” Javadekar, who is also the party’s Kerala in-charge, said in a post on social media platform X.

The war of words between the two national parties comes ahead of LS polls where the Manipur violence is being used by the Congress and the Left to target the BJP which is striving to woo Christians in the southern state with cakes to end their electoral drought in Kerala.

While BJP state president and the party’s candidate from Wayanad constituency K Surendran also spoke along similar lines as Javadekar, Union Minister of State for Information Technology and Electronics Rajeev Chandrasekhar said that he “strongly opposes” any such order that declared Easter as a working day.

Addressing reporters, Chandrasekhar, who is the BJP candidate from Thiruvananthapuram constituency, said that he came to know about the order from news reports and immediately sent a request to the Manipur government to reconsider it.

“I am confident there is nothing like that. Easter is a holiday for the Christian community and we have told the Manipur government that it should not be a working day,” he said.

Earlier in the day, Tharoor said the Manipur government’s decision was “worrying and surprising” as it comes in the aftermath of a devastating year in that state where a large number of people were killed, violent attacks took place and 230 churches, according to one count, were destroyed.

“In the context of all of this, when the need should be to keep things calm and not let one section of the community feel that they have been discriminated against, to take a decision — however practical the justification may be — that hurts the sentiments of some 40 per cent of the population of Manipur is a matter of grave concern for all of us.

“I must say I do believe that the government of India should intervene and get the state government to withdraw this most unfortunate notification,” he told reporters.

He said that treating their important holidays as working days was “disrespectful” to them and would create “a dangerous situation in the country”.

“The message it sends is that they have no respect for the beliefs of others. It is a huge mistake and it is an unacceptable decision,” he added.

Satheesan said that the decision of the Manipur government created “insecurity” among the Christian community there and “it also shows the stand of the Sangh Parivar towards minorities”.

Lashing out at the BJP, the opposition leader in the Kerala assembly said, “After all, this they come with cakes to the homes of Christians in Kerala. They are wolves in sheep’s clothing. They are trying to create divisions and hatred among the people for political gains.”

The Manipur government which had declared that March 31, which is Easter Sunday, as a “working day” retracted its order following protests by the Christian community.

The state government on Wednesday said in a notification that March 30 and 31 will be working days in government departments despite being Saturday and Sunday “for smooth functioning of offices in the last few days of the financial year.”

It modified the order today after it caused a stir among the Christian population in the northeastern state.
The Tangkhul Naga Baptist Convention, Mao Baptist Churches Association and Senapati District Students Association condemned the order, terming it as a “blatant violation and infringement to the religious rights and freedom of Christians” in the state.

Christians worldwide celebrate the Easter festival which marks the Resurrection of Jesus Christ on the third day after his crucifixion.

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