PRITAM SENGUPTA writes from New Delhi: On the former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi‘s 20th death anniversary today, different ministries of the Congress-led UPA government are falling over each other to demonstrate that the “collective flame of political sycophancy” continues to burn brightly and shamelessly.
While Rajiv Gandhi’s widow Sonia Gandhi and their son Rahul Gandhi talk of “austerity” when it suits them, nearly a dozen Union ministries and a couple of State governments have released tens of ads through the government-controlled Department of Audio Visual Publicity (DAVP) to remind Indians that such a man as he walked this earth.
In eleven English news and business papers published out of New Delhi, there were 65 advertisements amounting to 38¼ pages, glorifying The Great Leader, without whom India wouldn’t have entered the 21st century.
Hindustan Times: 24-page issue; 9 RG ads amounting to 5¼ broadsheet pages
The Times of India: 32-page issue; 10 ads amounting to 6 broadsheet pages
Indian Express: 28-page issue; 10 ads amounting to 5 broadsheet pages
Mail Today (compact): 42-page issue; 8 ads amounting to 7 compact pages
The Hindu: 22-page issue; 6 ads amounting to 3½ broadsheet pages
The Pioneer: 16-page issue; 7 ads amounting to 3½ broadsheet pages
The Statesman: 16-page isuse; 4 ads amounting to 2½ broadsheet pages
The Economic Times: 16-page issue; 3 ads amounting to 1¼ broadsheet pages
Business Standard: 14-page issue; 4 ads amouning to 1¾ broadsheet pages
Financial Express: 24-page issue; 3 ads amounting to 1½ broadsheet pages
Mint (Berliner): 12-page issue; 1 ad amounting to one compact page
Among the departments and ministries seeking to remind the nation of Rajiv Gandhi’s magical powers are the department of information and publicity; the ministries of commerce and industry, tourism, human resource development, social justice & empowerment, power, micro small and medium industries, information and broadcasting, steel; the state governments of Haryana and Rajasthan; and Rajiv Gandhi centre for biotechnology.
Last year, on the 19th death anniversary of Rajiv Gandhi, the historian Ramachandra Guha wrote in an edit-page article in The Telegraph, Calcutta:
“A back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests that on May 21, 2010, perhaps Rs 60 or 70 crore were spent by the taxpayer — without his and her consent — on praising Rajiv Gandhi. Since the practice has been in place since 2005, the aggregate expenditure to date on this account is probably in excess of Rs 300 crore.”
On his birthday in August last year, The Telegraph reported that “Union ministries released more ads on Rajiv Gandhi’s birthday today than on the anniversaries of the rest of India’s Prime Ministers put together in the past one year, Press Information Bureau sources said.”
For the record, The Telegraph received four ads amounting to 2½ pages this year.
Loved the phrase – ‘collective flame of political sycophancy’. No irony intended :D
Given a thought on number of institutions decorated with gandhi family tag and it would cover (area wise) >10% of land mass of india or more ? wonder when indians will stop dedicating everything we do to one family or they are rightful owners of “first family” in india ? Has the family really done so much for india to decorate them at such proportions, i wonder at times.
Once it was British era, named after their queens and viceroys. Now its Gandhi era.
Good job compiling that data. Very insightful.
Thats like wastage of people’s money….and it will keep happening in upcoming years. :-/
We have been a nation of boot leakers and it is in our genetics, the Gandhi family controls the fund of the party and all the congress man are bending backwards so that everybody gets a morsel at the time of election, they are spine less members who are hajuriayas and for their survival they will bend , the British knew our forefathe’s weakness for wealth and the famous line is ” the Indians can sell their father for money” so no surprise , a time will come we amy have to compulsorily name one of our issue after the Nehru/Gandhi family to be an Indian National
This is what is called as eating public money even after death! What RG is great for? Nobody knows!!! All politicians bums should be blasted for misusing public money. Same money of money can be spent on rehabilitation of beggars/other genders/self sustaining old age homes/etc.
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As long as flunkies like Mani Shankar Aiyar (chief of the pack) are feted in polite circles and not dismissed as hacks, this sycophancy will continue.
Rs. 80 crore spent on a single day! Does the Congress party actually think that it will convert even single non cong voter to its fold with this Himalayan wastage? The ads are not just unwanted but they are also terribly executed ads, both on content and style.
Couldn’t they at least have used the occasion to speak about whatever the governments achievements are?
The Congress desperately needs a professional PR cum advertising specialist.
>> Does the Congress party actually think that it will convert even single non cong voter to its fold with this Himalayan wastage?
So if they could convert a few voters towards Congress, then it wouldn’t be a “Himalayan wastage” ?!?! Remember it is the Government money we are talking about and not Congress money (though in your mind, there may be no difference).
While junior RG talks about his idea of 2 Indias (Bharat vs India), his mom SG says, RG was representative of new India.
Does this mean junior RG is trying to undo what senior RG did?
Government money should be spent on informing people of government policies. Not praising a dead leader.
BJP is number one in propganda – look at BSY’s face all over my state and you will realise what I mean. .
While this tendency to spend money unnessarily must be deplored, what surprises me is that to celebrate a leader who is supposed to have led India into the 21st century, they have chosen a very 19th or 20th century approach by spending on reams of newsprint.
I am sure they could have done it far more effectively and at a relatively lesser cost using more modern means of advertising (cell phones, TV and Internet). The reach would be certainly more than the number of people who would ‘read’ a newspaper.
Is it not shameful for spending many crores of tax payers money for such releases? Hundereds of dwelling units could have built for homeless with such money.
Are all these activties,crimes & misdeeds of congress PSYCOPHANTS atrue SHRDHANJLI or insult to late Rajiv Gandhi?
I intent to file a PIL in Supreme Court of India. Who supports me & my cause should send me e-mail.
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