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Building Brand Congress with taxpayers' money (Part-1)

Building Brand Congress with taxpayers' money (Part-1)

Author: A Surya Prakash
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: March 25, 2009
URL: http://www.dailypioneer.com/165005/Building-Brand-Congress-with-taxpayers'-money-(Part-1).html

In a planned and systematic effort to gain unfair advantage over other political parties, the Congress party has named all major Government programmes, projects and institutions in the country after three members of the Nehru-Gandhi family - Rajiv Gandhi, Indira Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru - who are its icons, and disturbed the level playing field in the electoral arena.

Over the last 18 years, on a rough estimate, about 450 Central and State Government programmes, projects and national and State-level institutions involving public expenditure of hundreds of thousands of crores of rupees have been named after these three individuals. While it is the prerogative of a Government to name an institution after a person whom it considers to be a national or State leader, Government programmes which have been initiated to ameliorate the lives of millions of citizens (like drinking water, housing and employment guarantee schemes and old age pensions) fall into an entirely different category. If the nomenclature of these programmes is not politically neutral, the sanctity of the democratic system would be in jeopardy.

Among the big ticket programmes that have been cleverly named after members of this family by the Union Government to extract unjust electoral mileage is the Rajiv Gandhi Grameen Vidyutikaran Yojana (rural electrification programme), which involves an outgo of Rs 28,000 crore during the Eleventh Plan period (Rs 5,500 crore in fiscal 2008-09). The drinking water mission, with an allocation of Rs 21,000 crore over three years (Rs 7,300 crore in 2008-09 and Rs 7,400 cr in 2009-10) is also named after him and is called the Rajiv Gandhi Drinking Water Mission. Other schemes, touching millions of people, which bear his name are the Rajiv Gandhi National Creche Scheme for Children of Working Mothers; the Rajiv Gandhi Udyami Mitra Yojana (to promote small enterprises); the Rajiv Gandhi Shramik Kalyan Yojana and the Rajiv Gandhi Shilpi Swasthya Bima Yojana (both insurance schemes).

Likewise, there are many mega-programmes named after Indira Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru by the Centre. For example, there is Indira Awas Yojana. The budgetary allocation for this programme to house the poor is Rs 7,919 cr in 2008-09 and Rs 7914.70 cr in 2009-10. Also named after her is the Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme (Rs 3,443 cr 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. The Rojgar Yojana, which later metamorphosed into Jawaharlal Gram Samruddi Yojana was meant to provide employment to millions of unemployed citizens. The Union Government proposes to spend Rs 50,000 cr over seven years on the Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission (allocation of Rs 10,447.98 cr in 2008-09 and Rs 10,713.84 cr in 2009-10).

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