As Union ministers, BJP chief ministers and party functionaries fan out across India to pay tributes to the country’s freedom fighters to celebrate the Independence Day, they might give India’s first Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru and a host of Congress leaders a miss.
Union minister for mines Narendra Singh Tomar will go to Allahabad, to pay tributes to Pandit Madan Mohan Malviya. In his official itinerary, there is no visit planned for Anand Bhavan, the house where Nehru was born.
Ramvilas Paswan will go to Akbarpur to pay tributes to Ram Manohar Lohia while Kalraj Mishra will visit Sitab Diara, the birthplace of Jai Prakash Narayan. Both Narayan and Lohia were staunch critics of Nehru-Gandhi family, apart from being freedom fighters.
K Kamaraj, who along with Morarji Desai and Nijalingappa had split the Congress under Indira Gandhi, will be remembered in a programme attended by minister Sadananda Gowda.
Soon after the NDA government came to power in 2014, the tussle between to the BJP and the Congress to appropriate India’s national icons intensified. The NDA government also removed names like Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru from government schemes, as the Congress fumed over the systematic undermining of the party’s legacy. The latest plan to highlight the unsung heroes of India’s freedom movement may again turn out to be another bid to push Congress heritage into oblivion.
The government will hail tribal leader Birsa Munda, freedom fighters Ashfaqulla Khan and Ramprasad Bismil. Finance minister Arun Jaitley will travel to Hira Nagar in J&K to pay tribute to Pandit Prem Nath Dogra. Jaitley will also visit Jallianwala Bagh.
I&B minister Venkaiah Naidu is headed for the birthplace of Subramania Bharati, Rao Tularam Rani Kittur Chennamma and many other freedom fighters.