The BJP might regret trying to colonize the 25th of December. Not on account of remorse; subordinating things that aren’t Hindu to things that are is the party’s reason for being. No, the party might come to regret the petty, lying spectacle it made of itself while trying to steal Christmas.
Narendra Modi’s government marked its first Christmas in office by celebrating the nativity of Madan Mohan Malaviya and Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Government servants were made to work through a major gazetted holiday to help rebrand Christmas as Good Governance Day. The Central government ordered government schools to mark the day by staying open on Christmas so that students could participate in debates, plays and essay competitions on the theme of good governance.
In the face of outrage, the human resource development minister tried to brazen it out. In a series of tweets, she chided the Times of India for misreporting the government’s initiative. According to her, the government had made no attempt to keep schools open over Christmas. The only activity that had been officially recommended, according to her, was an optional online essay competition that didn’t require the physical presence of students in school on Christmas day.
The Times of India‘s reporter who had filed the story, promptly uploaded a scanned image of the original circular. This hadn’t just specified a series of activities that required students to be present in schools on Christmas day, but had ordered school authorities to document their compliance by making video recordings of students participating in these activities. Since it’s hard to film an online essay competition, Smriti Irani’s chutzpah in demanding a retraction and apology from a newspaper for a scrupulously accurate report, was shown up for what it was, pre-emptive bluster. In full retreat, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s spokespersons and its furious fellow travellers were reduced to muttering that it wasn’t the Modi sarkar’s fault that Jesus shared a birthday with Madan Mohan and Atal Bihari. In this, at least, they were right…….