Why a mural of top Indian woman achievers in the middle of the city misses former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi?
A government teacher asked the question on Friday referring to the beautifully sculpted mural adorning the wall of the Kamla Nehru Government School, carrying a monochrome panel with elevated portraits of Lata Mangeshkar, Rani Lakshmi Bai, Mother Teresa, Sarojini Naidu, Kalpana Chawla, Mary Com and PT Usha. But, Indira Gandhi is missing.
The mural is part of the beautification work being undertaken by the Bhopal Municipal Corporation (BMC) near the crowded New Market in the heart of the city.
A majority of the people HT talked to on the issue thought it was an avoidable omission but some even saw a saffron agenda of the BJP-dominated BMC council.
Senior social activist LS Herdenia said Indira was the most influential woman of the Indian history and should have been there on the mural.
Sandhya Shaili of All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) said one might not agree with her political ideologies, but Indira was one of the strongest Indian Prime Ministers, who stood “tall even in the international arena.”
An engineering student Anshuman Sharma said, “The first name that comes to my mind is of Rani Lakshmi Bai. Then Indira Gandhi. Sarojini Naidu too contributed a lot to India’s name and fame in other countries. Eliminating any of these three ladies from the top-five most influential women of India will not be apt.”
Activist Upasana Behar said, “Giving her a miss in such public display reeks of an agenda of the ruling party.”
Academician Zamiruddin said Indira could not be assessed without her political background, but her courage and resolve made her a great leader. “She certainly was a great Indian woman. And shouldn’t have been missed from the top five.
Activist Rolly Shivhare and BPO employee Ruchi Sankwa also felt the same. Ajay Sahare of Dalit Adhikar Abhiyan and Akshay Hunka of Aam Aadmi Party, however, said it was not a major issue.
Despite repeated attempts, Bhopal mayor Alok Sharma could not be contacted.
Urban development minister Kailash Vijayvargiya, who stays close to the mural site, said that there was no government or administrative interference in the choice of icons.
“Artists were given a free hand and they decided on the figures. If anyone is interested in depicting Indira Gandhi, we offer him to come ahead to create her image. As she is no more, there is no chance of any politics here,” he said.
However, Congress spokesman JP Dhanopia termed the miss as the Bharatiya Janata Party’s cheap mentality and narrow mindedness. He expressed wonder that Indira was given a miss from the public display despite the fact that former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee called Indira Gandhi as ‘Durga ka avataar’ (reincarnation of Goddess Durga).