Central govt decides to observe only Mahatma’s anniversaries

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Oct 19, 2014 01:59 IST

In a fresh twist to the ongoing debate over appropriation of Congress icons, Narendra Modi government Saturday decided to disassociate itself from the birth and death anniversaries of all departed national leaders except Mahatma Gandhi.

It would mean that the government would no longer be associated with the anniversaries of former Prime Ministers including Jawaharlal Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi.

Incidentally, the government also re-constituted the committee to commemorate the 125th birth anniversary of Jawaharlal Nehru.


India's first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, and Mahatma Gandhi. (File photo)

The committee to be headed by Prime Minister Modi comprises top ministers and also many Congress leaders including Mallikarjun Kharge, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Karan Singh and Gandhi family loyalist Suman Dubey, among others.

The UPA government had first constituted the committee headed by Manmohan Singh, with Congress president Sonia Gandhi as a member.

She resigned after the NDA government took over. Subsequently, the Congress constituted a committee headed by former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit to commemorate Nehru’s 125th anniversary.

The NDA government’s decision to reconstitute a parallel committee came hours before the Union Cabinet decided to dissociate the government from the birth and death anniversaries of national leaders, including all former PMs.

According to Saturday’s cabinet decision, such functions of other departed national leaders may be observed by respective trusts, parties, societies or supporters.

While the Cabinet’s decision only reiterated the Vajpayee Cabinet’s decision in 2000, it is likely to cause heartburns in the opposition Congress as the UPA government had ignored the NDA cabinet’s decision to organise these anniversaries. During the UPA tenure, the Union government organised the anniversaries of Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Indira Gandhi, Choudhary Charan Singh and Rajiv Gandhi.

“Gandhiji’s birth and death anniversary, which is managed by the Rajghat Committee, will be a function organised by the central government and for all our other national leaders, it will be private societies or trusts of their supporters, parties, family members which will organise these functions,” finance minister Arun Jaitley said after the Cabinet meeting.

Earlier, Congress leaders had attacked Modi for his silence on reconstituting the committee to commemorate Nehru’s birth anniversary alleging that there were “deliberate attempts to scuttle” the Nehruvian legacy and cited the move to scrap the planning commission as one such instance.

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