The Jaipur Municipal Corporation (JMC) has made it mandatory for its staff to sing the national anthem in the morning and national song in the evening. Jaipur Mayor Ashok Lahoty said anyone opposing this decision “should go to Pakistan”. The decision was taken by Lahoty and JMC Commissioner Ravi Jain, and written orders were issued on Monday. The letter, signed by JMC Additional Commissioner Har Sahay Meena, said the decision was taken in order to instil a sense of “patriotism and love for country”, “maintain discipline” and ensure a “positive work environment”.
In the first phase, the national anthem and national song will be played at the JMC headquarters, it said. The national anthem will be played at 9:50 am and Vande Mataram at 5:55 pm. While the orders were implemented at the JMC headquarters on Tuesday, the zonal offices and fire stations are expected to follow.
“There was no immediate reason or cause to take this initiative. At the institution where we work, we should begin our day with positive energy. In any government office, there cannot be a bigger positive sense or positive energy than the national anthem,” said Lahoty.
He said singing the national anthem would have many benefits. “Apart from patriotism and love for country, it will also develop work culture, ensuring that everyone goes to work with positive energy. It will increase collectivity and discipline; another aim is to make people come to office on time,” he said.
As for Vande Mataram in the evening, Lahoty said: “A person returns home with work fatigue, (but) he should leave office temperament in office itself… They should go home with positive energy from singing the national song and give quality time to people at home.”
He said the staff don’t have to assemble in one place, and they can participate from wherever they are. “We are not asking anyone to chant a religious slogan. So if anyone opposes the national anthem and song, there are no restrictions, but they should go to Pakistan,” he said.
Responding to a question on why he felt the need to instil “patriotism and nationalism”, he pointed out that some employees asked their colleagues to stand at attention when the national anthem was played. “So, every child should know what one’s stance should be during the anthem; they should know which country they are living in.”
A BJP counsellor from Jaipur’s ward number 43, Lahoty was elected Mayor in December last year.
State Congress vice-president Archana Sharma said her party supported the move, but criticised Lahoty over his reference to Pakistan. “When the national anthem started Tuesday morning, our party members were present. But the Mayor still said that those who oppose the move should go to Pakistan. This makes it clear that even without any opposition to the initiative, he wants to add his name to the list of BJP leaders who are competing with each other to display their patriotism,” she said.