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Government misleading parliament over Navodaya issue: Opposition

According to reports, the government issued a circular asking the Navodaya Vidyalayas to remain open on Christmas, Dec 25 to observe 'Good Governance Day'.

The day also happens to be the birthday of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and the National Democratic Alliance government has decided to celebrate it as "Good Governance Day".

Members in both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha had on Monday questioned the government on the issue, and the government denied asking schools to stay open on Dec 25.

However, copies of the circular were on Tuesday flashed in both houses by opposition parties.

In the Lok Sabha, KC Venugopal of the Congress, and in the Rajya Sabha, Sitaram Yechury of the CPI-M submitted a copy of the circular to the chair.

"The minister had said that only online essay writing competition was being organised which is not correct. I have the circular with me. It is misleading," Venugopal said in the lower house.

"I seek a fresh explanation from the minister," he said.

Responding to him, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Rajiv Pratap Rudy said: "The government has no intention of keeping any school open on Dec 25. The circular was only meant for Navodaya schools which are residential."

"An April 1987 order says that Navodaya school students should be in the school only and should not be sent back home even during vacations," he said.

In the Rajya Sabha, where Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had on Monday dismissed the allegation that a circular was sent, Trinamool Congress leader Derek O'Brien said it was a breach of privilege of the house.

However, as the minister stood up to explain, opposition members did not allow him to speak.

The human resource development ministry had on Monday issued a detailed clarification blaming a section of the media for "distorted impression" that schools have been asked to remain open on Dec 25.

It said no instructions have been issued to state governments.

"This is to clarify that CBSE (Central Board of Secondary Education) has not directed any school to remain open on 25th December, 2014. All schools will follow their vacation schedule including vacation/holiday on 25th December as specifically clarified by CBSE," it said.

It said the proposed instructions of the CBSE were to conduct an online essay competition on Dec 24 and 25 which was completely voluntary and students can participate from their homes or any other place with online access.

On the Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalayas, it had said the vacation pattern depends on the climatic conditions but noted that on Dec 25 was a holiday.

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