New Delhi, Dec 15: Parliamentary Affairs Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu Monday said the government has not asked the schools to remain open for an essay writing contest on Christmas day and such a participation will only be voluntary and online.
Seeking to allay concerns of the opposition members over Navodaya Schools being asked to hold an essay competition Dec 25, Naidu told the Lok Sabha that there was no circular issued to say that schools should be run on that day.
"Nothing has been made mandatory. There is no question of using force," Naidu added.
The opposition members sought the government's response over reports that said that Navodaya Schools are conducting an essay writing contest Dec 25.
The Christmas Day also happens to be the birthday of former prime minister and BJP stalwart Atal Bihari Vajpayee and the NDA government has decided to celebrate it as the Good Governance Day.
Earlier, raising the issue in the Lok Sabha, Congress leader K.C. Venugopal said an essay competition is being held Dec 24-25 but Christians will go to churches on these days. "It will be hurting sentiments of minorities."
Venugopal added that he was not against observing the day as a Good Governance Day.
As Venugopal spoke, his fellow members from the Congress party and members from other parties rose from their seats. Some of them came close to the Lok Sabha speaker's podium.
"We want clarification from the minister," one of the members demanded.
As the protest continued, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan adjourned the house for lunch.
Clarifying the issue after lunch, Naidu said he spoke to Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani over the issue and was told that there was no circular issued that the schools will run Dec 25.