By declaring its decision to name this engineering marvel after Rajiv Gandhi, the Congress-led government in Maharastra has raised the hackles of Maharastrians — who value their ‘swabhimaan’ and their history and who abhor the thought of crediting every institution and national achievement to a single political family in the country.
The people are now aware that the Congress party has named a number of major government programmes and institutions after three members of the Nehru-Gandhi family — Rajiv Gandhi, Indira Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru. On a rough estimate, as many as 450 such Central and state government programmes, projects and institutions involving public expenditure of hundreds of thousands of crores of rupees grace just these three names.
Among the big ticket programmes that have been cleverly named after members of this family by the Union government to extract maximum political mileage are the Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana (Rs 28,000 crore during the Eleventh Plan) and the drinking water mission (Rs 21,000 crore over three years). Other schemes which bear his name are the Rajiv Gandhi National Creche Scheme for children of working mothers; the Rajiv Gandhi Udyami Mitra Yojana; the Rajiv Gandhi Shramik Kalyan Yojana and so on.
Likewise, there are many mega programmes named after Indira Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru. This includes the Indira Awas Yojana (Rs 7,914 crore in 2009-10) and the Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme (Rs 3,443 crore in 2008-09). Programmes named after Jawaharlal Nehru over the last two decades are the Jahawarlal Nehru Rojgar Yojana and the Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission (Rs 50,000 crore over seven years).
This trend is even more apparent in the states, which have vied with each other to name every conceivable scheme after these three members of the Nehru-Gandhi family whenever the Congress was in power. This covers a wide and rather bizarre range from the ‘Rajiv Gandhi Breakfast Scheme’ in Pondicherry to the ‘Indira Gandhi Calf-Rearing Scheme’ in Andhra Pradesh!
A perusal of these programmes and schemes show a systematic attempt by the Congress to name every government programme concerning every citizen — man ,woman, child; every possible circumstance in the life of every citizen — child bearing, child rearing, education of children, food, education of youth, employment, marriage, unemployment, destitution, handicap; and every possible challenge flowing out of lack of infrastructure — drinking water, electricity and housing — after just three members of this political family.
Not even IIM spared
Obviously, the plan is to ensure maximum recall of ‘Brand Family’ among voters at every stage in life. Therefore, nothing is left out. Shockingly, even Brand IIM has been tinkered with. While all institutes of management started by the Centre go under the IIM brand, the Congress has mischievously named the IIM in Shillong as the Rajiv Gandhi Indian Institute of Management.
The list of 450 government programmes, schemes, institutions, etc named after these three members broadly fall into the following categories:
Central government programmes and projects (12), state government programmes (52), universities and educational institutions (98), ports and airports (6), awards, scholarships and fellowships (66), sports tournaments, trophies and stadia (47), national parks and sanctuaries (15), hospitals and medical institutions (39), national scientific and research institutions, chairs and festivals (37), roads, buildings and places (74).
Apart from violation of basic democratic norms, the naming spree has crossed all limits of decency.
For long years we have been all familiar with the Fullbright Scholarships. The Manmohan Singh government has ensured that this is now known as the Fullbright-Jawaharlal Nehru Scholarship! We are unlikely to see anything so gross even in dictatorships such as in North Korea and Libya.
Such is the obsession of the Congress party with three members of the Nehru-Gandhi family that even the Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi has been virtually forgotten.
Equally glaring is the omission of many other eminent Indians including Sardar Vallabhai Patel, India’s first deputy prime minister who undertook the arduous task of integrating 563 princely states into a single nation and Dr B R Ambedkar, who presided over the committee that drafted our Constitution.
The list of those ignored is a pretty long one. If we do not want all great Indians to look down on us as ungrateful wretches, we must reverse this trend. A beginning can be made with the Bandra-Worli sea link. What has Rajiv Gandhi or any other occupant of 10, Janpath got to do with it? It should be named after a great patriot or an eminent engineer.