No state funeral for Mahajan
Did the Congress-NCP regime in Maharashtra set a new precedent when it organised what appeared to be a 'state funeral' for Rajya Sabha MP Pramod Mahajan, who, at the time of his death, held no ministerial position?india Updated: May 06, 2006 02:14 IST
Did the Congress-NCP regime in Maharashtra set a new precedent when it organised what appeared to be a 'state funeral' for Rajya Sabha MP Pramod Mahajan, who, at the time of his death, held no ministerial position?
Not really. It was only a funeral with 'state honours' where the departed leader's body — accompanied by a police band — was draped in the national tricolour and given a gun salute when his son Rahul lit the pyre.
"In such cases, it's entirely the prerogative of the state government, which can simultaneously declare a mourning to honour any of its prominent citizens," explained an official.
But if a 'state funeral' is to be accorded to a person other than the entitled four — President, Vice President, Prime Minister and former presidents — the state will need the Centre's approval. In the event of a state funeral, the army takes over the entire arrangement — from carrying the body to offering gun-salutes.
Other than the dignitaries who automatically qualify for the honour, exceptions have been made in the past for Mahatma Gandhi, Mother Teresa, Satyajit Ray, Acharya Vinoba Bhave, Jaiprakash Narayan, Rajiv Gandhi, Dr Nagendra Singh, L.K. Jha, Vijayraje Scindia, P.V. Narasimha Rao and P.M. Sayeed.
A national mourning — when the tricolour is made to fly at half-mast and official celebrations and entertainment programmes by public broadcasters cancelled — is observed for the President, PM, VP and former presidents. "But even in this case, the Centre has made exceptions and announced mournings for other leaders," the official said.