Opinion: Stop exploiting and duping us about propose Diwali holiday

Albert Baldeo advocating for Diwali to be a holiday.
Albert Baldeo advocating for Diwali to be a holiday.
Courtesy Albert Baldeo

As an elected District Leader with a large South Asian population, I make this appeal on behalf of the more than 500,000 Hindu, Sikh, Jain and Buddhist families living in our great City. Both Assembly member Jenifer Rajkumar, and the Mayor know that the Mayor can declare Diwali a holiday, without anyone’s help. Indeed, both have repeatedly made unreserved Diwali holiday promises as major platform issues prior to being elected to their respective public offices. In the case of the Mayor, he promised “from Day 1, immediately after taking the oath of office.”

The Mayor can implement his School Chancellor’s regulation to make Diwali a holiday, just as had been done under Mayor Bill de Blasio to create the Eid and Lunar New Year holidays. Most disappointingly, Assembly member Jenifer Rajkumar betrayed her constituents who voted her into office, and collaborated on a flatulent promise that was nothing more than abdicating their promises and passing the buck to Albany legislators.

Their combined failures and refusal to deliver on their promise were aggravated in their misrepresentations to the media that this was a done deal. What is worse, they are further exploiting communities, by manipulating and changing their tunes, to confuse and deceive us that Albany now has to play a part in this. It is the typical “bait and switch con game” we must denounce. This is the kind of evil and darkness Diwali shines a light on, and eradicate. They have passed the buck to “blame typical dysfunction in the State legislature, as the culprit,” for the inevitable failure.

To the Mayor and Jenifer Rajkumar, we say stop exploiting us with your mere rhetoric, deceitful promises and grandstanding. All your noise is further manifestation of false and exploitative promises you made to us, and still continue to make, but failed to deliver. Rajkumar knows that her bill has been pending for years in the State legislature, did not even get the necessary State senator sponsor, nor make it out of committee, and has gone nowhere, yet she recycles her deceitful excuse to claim that “our time has come.”

We further condemn her empty assurances and betrayal designed to manipulate this issue, prematurely promising that “my legislation makes the room,” while deceitfully claiming that “Mayor Adams is the first Mayor to get done what South Asians have been advocating for over 20 years.” Not only is she abusing us emotionally, but our kids also, while giving the Mayor a way out to renege on his promises, and blame Albany for not supporting her long shot state bill.

As articulated by former City Council member and Education Chair, Councilman Mark Treygar at a stated, public hearing to make Diwali a holiday, he verified that, “There are currently more than enough school days to declare Diwali a holiday, and the Mayor can take away a snow day, and make Diwali a holiday, tomorrow, if he wants to.” See 7:19 of this hearing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i7_Cz5d7W8E&t=550.

Stop exploiting and deceiving us with your lies, Jenifer Rajkumar and Mayor Adams, and deliver on your promise! Stop the hypocrisy!

Albert Baldeo is an elected District Leader in Richmond Hill, South Ozone Park and Ozone Park.