Union cabinet ministers will visit birthplaces of unsung heroes of the freedom struggle this Independence Day as part of the Narendra Modi government’s push to reach out to people during important festivals and occasions.
Ministers travelling for such occasions — be it Raksha Bandhan, yoga, or the 41st anniversary of the Emergency – on the direction of the PM has become a practice since the government came to power in 2014.
A month-and-a-half before Bharat Parv that is being celebrated from August 12-18 to mark the 70th Independence Day, all the Union ministers were told to fan out to different parts of the country, hold public meetings and talk about the excesses of Emergency. The occasion: 41st anniversary of Emergency.
These events have kept the ministers on their toes most of the time. The ministers may not have complained, but Opposition, and civil society campaigners have called the practice of turning every event into a show an “over-eagerness” of the government to appropriate every event on the country’s calendar.
“Independence Day, for instance, is an occasion for celebration by every citizen. The attempt on the part of this government to appropriate everything which belongs to the citizens of India is something very disagreeable to me,” sociologist Andrei Beteille said.
Dr Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, BJP’s national vice president, however, thinks that it’s an excellent strategy to have people internalise and own the development agenda. “To make it happen, the PM and his cabinet colleagues as well as party leaders are going to nook and corner of the country to spread message of development, intertwining it with patriotic fervour and celebration of national festivals,” he said.
Government sources said that a lot of planning goes into the whole process once an occasion is chosen to be celebrated. “It’s not easy. We have to prepare the ministers schedule, coordinate with the party unit in the cities and towns where he/she is visiting, arrange the logistics. For Bharat Parv, where ministers are going to some 300 locations to visit birthplaces of unsung heroes, more than a month was spent in doing research and coordination,” said a party leader.