New Delhi, Sep 16 (IANS) The Congress on Wednesday protested the decision to to discontinue two postal stamps on former prime ministers – and party leaders – Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, but the NDA government stood firm, saying it wanted to expand the list of leaders to be so honoured.
The Congress condemned the decision, with party leader Anand Sharma, saying it reflected “a very narrow mindset of this government”. “It is an insult to history. We condemn the approach and attitude of this government towards the Gandhis who have sacrificed a lot for the nation,” he said.
The party also held a protest here with party leader Shobha Oza asking government not to indulge in “cheap politics”. Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala had on Tuesday claimed the decision depicted “that hatred of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government in seeking personal vendetta..”
But the government hit back at the opposition party, saying it will honour all those leaders of the past who had contributed to nation building.
Elaborating on his ministry’s decision, Communications and Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said there were two categories of stamps – commemorative or limited edition stamps released on special occasions to honour a place, event or person and definitive or those for daily use.
Noting that commemorative stamps had been issued four times on Indira Gandhi, two times on Rajiv Gandhi and seven times on Jawaharlal Nehru, he said: “So many stamps have been released on a family… In definitive stamp (category), focus was on a family though other names were there.”
Prasad said that the inland letter also featured Indira Gandhi and there was a suggestion that it should be replaced with yoga but the government had not taken a final decision in the matter.
He said Philatelic Advisory Committee advises on the release of definitive stamps and there were such stamps on Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, while the government was of the view that whoever has contributed to the building of the country should be honoured.
Following advice of the Philatelic Advisory Committee, it has been decided to issue definitive stamps in the honour of Shyama Prasad Mukherji, Deen Dayal Upadhyay, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Shivaji, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Bhagat Singh, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Jayaprakash Narayan, Rabindra Nath Tagore, Ram Manohar Lohia, Subramania Bharati, Vivekananda, Mother Teresa, Srinivasa Ramanujan, and Maharana Pratap, he said.
Prasad said definitive stamps would also be brought on four music exponents who had been conferred the Bharat Ratna – Bhimsen Joshi, Pandit Ravi Shankar, Bismillah Khan and M.S. Subbalakshmi, while those on Mahatma Gandhi and Nehru will continue and there would be one on yoga.
Freedom fighters like Khudi Ram Bose, Ashfaqullah Khan, Batukeshwar Dutt and noted singers like Talat Mehmood and Mohammed Rafi would also be honoured, he added.