NEW DELHI: From Governance Day on Christmas two years ago, the central government has moved to declare April 14 as Digital India Day that is Dr B.R.Ambedkar’s birth anniversary but also Good Friday, observed by Christians across the world.

While the Christian organisations in other states are still mulling over the declaration, the North Eastern states have lodged strong protests making it clear that they will not follow the directive by the central government.

Meghalaya MP Conrad Sangma, whose National Peoples Party helped the BJP form the government in Manipur just last month even though the Congress had secured more seats, has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi saying,
“I humbly suggest you to kindly defer the Digital India Day, so that the secular fabric of India remains honoured, both in writing and spirit.” He sent the letter on Wednesday but has still to receive a reply.

Sangma, in an interview with The Citizen said that he expected the government to be “sensitive” to this request, as it is an important festival for the Christian community. He said that he was optimistic that the government would be lenient and not make it mandatory for all to participate and work on April 14.

He said that the government had decided to observe Digitial India Day on April 14 as it was Dr BR Ambedkar’s birth anniversary, and that Good Friday unlike Christmas did not always fall on the same day. But Sangma admitted, that the dates are generally known well in advance, “I am not sure but perhaps two years earlier” and Good Friday was listed in Indian government calendars accordingly.

Sangma said “we had not expected this to happen. It is a matter of concern. And we hope that the government will make it flexible so that people do not need to attend offices, that will remain open otherwise. It will not be mandatory.” He admitted, “it is a unique situation, and hope the government takes note.”

The ban on cow slaughter and beef is also agitating the N-E and Sangma made it clear, “there is no question of any compromise on this. Our stand is very clear and obviously this kind of a ban is not going to be possible.” Asked whether a rigid response by the government would impact on the alliance, Sangma said, “we are sure the government will not force us on either issue. The Shiv Sena has been opposing the BJP on several matters. We are with them on the issues of development and other such issues, but we hope the BJP will not force its allies.”

Nagaland has made it clear that it will not comply, following a complaint from the Nagaland Baptist Church. NBCC issued a statement, “This is a time when Christians all over the world commemorates the dead and resurrection of Jesus Christ and includes exercises of worship and spiritual devotion, both public and private. In this connection the NBCC is pleased to receive an assurance from the government of Nagaland that Digital India Day will not be observed on Good Friday in Nagaland.”

The Meghalaya government will not observe Digital India Day on Good Friday. The Centre plans to highlight its digital achivements, popularise its digital platofrm,s launch an e-agri market, and set up Aadhaar Pay for Aadhaar-linked account holders.

Christian organisations are drawing a link between Digital India Day and Good Governance Day that had been declared by the government two years ago on Christmas December 25. The controversy had reached the Supreme Court with two Supreme Court judges objecting to a decision of the then then Chief Justice of India H L Dattu to hold a conference of judges on Good Friday. Justice Kurian Joseph had asked for a change in date that had been rejected leading him to express his “deep hurt.”