Food scheme may not have Rajiv Gandhi's name for now

Food scheme may not have Rajiv Gandhi's name for now

The UPA government is likely to defer a decision on naming the food security scheme after former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, fearing opposition from political rivals in Parliament.

Initially, the government had planned to name the scheme after Rajiv Gandhi. The top brass now feels that opposition parties will use it as a pretext to deny passage of the food security bill in the monsoon session, scheduled to start on August 5.

The government’s priority is to pass the bill in the House with cooperation of the opposition parties. Once it gets the approval of Parliament, the government can think of naming it after Rajiv Gandhi, as they did for another flagship programme, the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act.

The UPA-I, which launched the job scheme after getting approval from Parliament, later added “Mahatma Gandhi” to the name.

Similarly, for the food security bill, the government is planning to prefix Rajiv Gandhi’s name after bringing the issue before the Cabinet, sources told Deccan Herald.

Twelve centrally sponsored and 52 state government schemes have been named after Nehru and Gandhi family members. Besides, scores of institutions, stadiums, trophies, awards, sanctuaries, hospitals, roads, ports and airports have been named after the family.

In a recent meeting of state Congress presidents and general secretaries, convened by Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi to discuss the initiative, Bihar’s Ashok Chaudhary, Punjab’s Partap Singh Bajwa and West Bengal’s Pradeep Bhattacharya apparently made a pitch for naming the scheme after Rajiv Gandhi.

As the Congress goes into an overdrive to hard sell the scheme ahead of the polls, a demand to name it after Rajiv Gandhi is gaining momentum in the party. It fears that the Opposition-ruled states may claim credit for the programme. Leaders feel that affixing the former prime minister’s name will ensure that the UPA retains its authorship.

The Congress-ruled Delhi and Haryana have announced roll-out of the scheme from August 20, birth anniversary of Rajiv Gandhi. Though some PCC presidents demanded that the scheme should be implemented directly by the Centre, the government rejected the suggestion saying that it was not possible.

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