Row as Modi ignores Indira event

Row as Modi ignores Indira event

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his cabinet colleagues stayed away from a Shakti Sthal function held on Friday to commemorate Indira Gandhi’s 30th death anniversary.

This sparked off a political controversy with the Congress accusing the government of showing its “narrow thinking” and “petty mindset”.

Modi, however, tweeted, “I join my fellow countrymen & women in remembering former PM Smt Indira Gandhi on her Punya Tithi (death anniversary).”

Interestingly, Health Minister Harsh Vardhan, in Spain on official assignment, remembered Indira for the “sacrifice” she made 30 years ago.

Modi’s decision is a departure from practice. Even former BJP prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had attended Gandhi’s death anniversary functions.

Early on Friday, President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice-President Hamid Ansari and top Congress leaders, including Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul, drove to Shakti Sthal to pay floral tributes to Indira Gandhi, who was shot dead in 1984. 

Around the same time, Modi launched the “Run together for unity” campaign to mark country’s first home minister Sardar Patel’s 139th birth anniversary. The NDA government has decided to celebrate the Iron Man’s birth anniversary as “Rashtriya Ekta Diwas”. 

Much to the chagrin of the Congress, Modi in his speech described the anti-Sikh violence that followed Indira Gandhi’s death as “a dagger into the heart of thousands of years of country’s heritage and culture”.

Modi’s move invited sharp criticism from the Congress, which observed Gandhi’s death anniversary with grand events.

“The government has demonstrated its narrow-thinking & petty mindset, they cannot erase from history Indiraji’s sacrifice & contribution,” tweeted former UPA minister Anand Sharma.

The BJP defended Modi’s decision, and counter-charged that the Congress was politicising the issue. 

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