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Building Brand Congress with taxpayers' money (Part-2)

Building Brand Congress with taxpayers' money (Part-2)

Author: A Surya Prakash
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: March 25, 2009
URL: http://www.dailypioneer.com/165004/Building-Brand-Congress-with-taxpayers'-money-(Part-2).html

This trend is even more apparent in States which have vied with each other to name programmes and schemes after these three members of the Nehru-Gandhi family whenever the Congress Party was in power. Here is a sample: Rajiv Gandhi Breakfast Scheme, Pondicherry; Rajiv Ratna Awas Yojana, Delhi; Rajiv Arogyasri Health Insurance Scheme, Andhra Pradesh; Rajiv Gandhi Computer Literacy Mission, Assam; Rajiv Gandhi Bridges and Roads Infrastructure Development Programme, Haryana; Rajiv Gandhi Vidyarthi Suraksha Yojana, Maharashtra; Rajiv Gandhi Tourism Development Mission, Rajasthan; Indira Kranthi Patham Scheme and Indira Jeevitha Bima Pathakam, Andhra Pradesh; Indira Gandhi Niradhar Yojana and Indira Gandhi Landless Agriculture Labour Scheme, Maharashtra; Indira Gandhi Priyadarshini Vivah Shagun Yojana, Haryana; Indira Gandhi Calf-Rearing Scheme, Andhra Pradesh.

A perusal of these programmes and schemes shows a systematic attempt by the Congress Party 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 who are icons of the Congress Party.

Obviously, the plan is to ensure maximum recall of Brand Congress among voters at every stage in life. Therefore, nothing is left out. The crèche for children of the working poor is named after Rajiv Gandhi. So is a breakfast scheme for poor children. The parents need to remember him for a host of other reasons - rural drinking water, rural electrification or scholarships. Indira Gandhi comes in when the poor want a house subsidised by the Government and you think of Nehru when urban renewal programmes come into play. The Congress Party has taken its obsession with this family to such an extent that even calf-rearing schemes are named after them. Shockingly, even Brand IIM had been tinkered with. While all institutes of management started by the Centre go under the IIM brand, the Congress Party 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 of the Nehru-Gandhi family 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 and electoral laws, the naming spree has crossed all limits of decency. Every major sports tournament has been named after the Nehru-Gandhis, as if nobody else matters, not even the greats in Indian sports. Among tournaments named after Rajiv Gandhi are national and international tournaments in football, basketball, judo, roller skating, beachball, kabaddi, rural cricket, gymnastics, boxing, the Delhi Marathon and the Kerala Boat Race. If anything is left out, it has been named after Indira Gandhi and Nehru. The same pattern is repeated in major national parks, universities, fellowships and scholarships. Such is the obsession of Congress Governments with this family that they name India's biggest open university after Indira Gandhi and name fellowships granted there after Rajiv Gandhi. Similarly, the centre for advanced scientific research in Bangalore is named after Nehru and the science talent fellowships awarded there are named after Rajiv Gandhi. For long years, we are 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 like in North Korea.
This blatant attempt to package and market Government programmes run on public money as munificent offerings from a single family to the people has made a mockery of the Model Code of Conduct drawn up by the Election Commission for observance by all political parties.

I have, therefore, petitioned the Chief Election Commissioner and requested him to immediately issue directions to the Union Government and to all the Governments in the States to remove the names of individuals, who are seen by the people as icons of specific political parties, from all Government programmes and schemes funded by the exchequer and to immediately give these programmes politically neutral names. Such a direction from the Election Commission will ensure enforcement of the Model Code of Conduct in letter and spirit and will also be in consonance with the various directions and instructions issued by the Commission from time to time.

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