On Sunday, the Maharashtra government’s decision to designate July 1 as the state’s Voters’ Day drew criticism from the opposition Congress and NCP, who claimed that it was done to minimise the significance of the day’s concurrent celebration of the birth anniversary of former chief minister Vasantrao Naik. In Maharashtra, the week around Naik’s birth anniversary is recognised as Agriculture Week and his birthday as Agriculture Day. In the state, the late leader is revered as the father of the Green Revolution. He served as chief minister between 1963 until 1975.
Leader of the House Chandrakant Patil responded to the opposition parties’ concerns by stating that the government played a part in designating July 1 as the state’s voting day, as this was established by the State Election Commission (SEC). He said the government would request the poll panel to withdraw the decision.
Raising the issue in the Council, the Leader of Opposition Dhananjay Munde said that a Government Resolution (GR) issued by the state’s general administration department said July 1 would be celebrated as the voters’ day in the state. ‘Why only July 1 and not July 2 or any other day? This shows that the government is trying to belittle the significance of former CM Vasantrao Naik,’ Munde said.
The Election Commission of India (ECI), according to Congress member Haribhau Rathod, has already designated January 25 as National Voters’ Day. In the House, he presented a copy of the ECI order and proposed that either a different day be designated as the state voters’ day or that it be observed on January 25 in accordance with the ECI’s directives.
In response to the propriety question, Chandrakant Patil stated that the SEC had chosen the date and that the government had no say in the matter. ‘The government doesn’t intend to disparage Naik. There will be no changes to how Vasantrao Naik’s birth anniversary and Agriculture Week are observed. We can just write to the state commission, but cannot instruct it to change the date,’ said Patil.