Jaipur mayor Ashok Lahoti’s order mandating that the national anthem and national song be compulsorily sung at the BJP-ruled municipal body — at the start of the workday and before going home, respectively — was implemented from Tuesday.
Mayor Mrigen Sarania of Guwahati Municipal Corporation issued a similar order on Tuesday. Both mayors believe the move will help staff get to work on time and encourage them to stay in office till the day’s end. Sarania even said the national anthem will discourage staff from wrongdoing at work.
Meanwhile, as the entire country debates whether singing either can be made compulsory, Lahoti believes those who have a problem with his order should go to Pakistan.
On Tuesday, the day the Jaipur order took effect, over 350 JMC employees, including BJP councillors, began their workday with Jana Gana Mana at 9.50 am, as per orders, and Vande Mataram was played at 5.55 pm — as it will be every evening — for nearly the same number of staff and councillors.
The BJP-ruled Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC), has quickly followed suit with its own directive making it compulsory for staff to sing the national anthem every morning. Mayor Mrigen Sarania said the proposal would be placed before the mayor and council meeting on Thursday.
“This initiative will spread peace and harmony, along with patriotism, among the employees. It will also help develop the habit of reaching office on time and staying at the workplace till the office closes,” Lahoti said in justification of his order. In Guwahati, mayor Sarania said the move had two advantages.
“We intend to make singing of the national anthem at 10 am, before the employees get down to work, compulsory. This would ensure everyone reaches office on time and, more importantly, I believe that after starting work by singing the national anthem, everybody will desist from any wrongdoing at their workplace.”
Replying to reporters’ queries about opposition to the move, Lahoti said, “We are not asking people to raise any religious slogan. If someone wants to oppose the national anthem and the national song of the country where one resides, the person is free to do so. But that person should then go to Pakistan.” The mayor’s statement invited criticism from Congress and reignited the debate about judging people’s patriotism.