- The birth and death anniversaries of Sardar Patel and Indira Gandhi respectively, two of India’s best known and most revered leaders were observed yesterday. The Prime Minister and the President of the country however chose to pay homage selectively; both following their personal and political affiliations in the way that they responded to the occasions.
- PM Narendra Modi was a busy man yesterday (his seeming omnipresence points to an unflagging level of physical stamina and mental energy). He flagged off the Run for Unity from Vijay Chowk yesterday to mark the birth anniversary of Sardar Patel (Source – Indian Express). He was later seen at the swearing in ceremony of Maharashtra’s new (and youngest) Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis at Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai. (Source – Deccan Chronicle)
- The country’s president, Pranab Mukherjee was seen to start the day by visiting the memorial for Indira Gandhi, Shakti Sthal on Friday morning. A function was organised by the Congress there to mark the 30th death anniversary of India’s first and only woman PM. He then proceeded to flag off a separate segment of the Run for Unity event – from the Rashtrapati Bhavan. (Source – The Hindu)
- PM Narendra Modi’s tribute to Indira Gandhi consisted of a tweet – “I join my fellow countrymen & women in remembering former PM Smt. Indira Gandhi on her Punya Tithi” (view tweet below)
I join my fellow countrymen & women in remembering former PM Smt. Indira Gandhi on her Punya Tithi.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) October 31, 2014
- In past years the norm has been for the country’s leaders to visit Shakti Sthal to pay tribute to Indira Gandhi and then proceed to the Central Hall of Parliament to pay tribute to Sardar Patel.
- President Mukherjee’s actions point to his loyalty to this party, because he was seen at Shakti Sthal along with the Gandhis, former PM Manmohan Singh and others. But this also indicates that he is walking the tight rope that requires him to follow the dictates of the governing party at the centre, since he also flagged off a segment of the unity run.
- PM Narendra Modi’s rather luke warm tribute to a very significant Indian statesperson, a mere tweet, which acknowledged neither her popularity nor her legacy has not only angered the Congress, it has also indicated where the PM’s loyalties lie. Clearly Mr. Modi sees no reason to pander to sensibilities of the Congress. Digvijay Singh, of course, used this as another opportunity to criticize the RSS
We pay Homage to Sardar Vallabh Bhai who united India and banned RSS for inciting Communal Violence which led to assassination of Gandhiji.
— digvijaya singh (@digvijaya_28) October 31, 2014
- PM Narendra Modi is intent upon following the agenda of his party and the RSS, which reveres Sardar Patel and his sensibilities while it questions the actions and the contributions of congress leaders and congress led governments by default. Besides the PM had other things to do: shaking hands with Shiv Sena Chief Uddhav Thackeray to smooth things over for the new BJP led government in Maharashtra was surely of far greater import.
- On the other hand President Mukherjee’s commitment to the Congress, which dates back decades (he was appointed member of the Congress Working Committee in 1978) and his unswerving loyalty to the Gandhi family which have surely resulted in his current status as the ceremonial head of the country, are as much in evidence.