Stressing that only one family cannot get the right to feature on stamps over and over again, the Centre on Wednesday hit back at the Congress and said it was being “more inclusive” by having stamps featuring several other leading lights of the country.
The Congress had targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his government’s decision to discontinue two postage stamps featuring Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, calling it “the hatred of the Prime Minister” and said the government was “seeking personal vendetta”.
An RTI query by The Indian Express had revealed that two stamps featuring Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, launched in 2008, have been discontinued.
“In the definitive stamp series, the focus was on one family, though other names were there. Mahatma Gandhi was there, Maulana Azad was there. Dr Ambedkar was there,” said Communications and IT minister Ravi Shankar Prasad.
“Yeh adhikar sirf ek parivar ka nahin hona chahiye (This right should not be available to just one family),” the minister added.
Prasad said all those who have contributed in the making of India, irrespective of ideology, should be honoured, and postage stamp is a symbol of that honour. Prasad said that the Philatelic Advisory Committee was mulling to replace Indira’s picture with Yoga on inland letter, but a final decision was yet to be taken.
Underlining the difference between “commemorative” stamps — issued once in a while to commemorate a personality — and “definitive” stamps that are issued for regular, daily use, Prasad said definitive stamps on Syama Prasad Mookerjee, Deen Dayal Upadhyay, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Sardar Patel, Shivaji, Maulana Azad, Bhagat Singh, J P Narayan, Ram Manohar Lohia, Vivekananda and Maharana Pratap had never been issued all these years and will now be issued.
“The Congress has been in power for many years, but Maulana Azad has not figured in a definitive stamp till date. I would like to ask the Congress if Maulana Azad did not deserve to be included in definitive stamp. Sardar Patel figured once in 2001 than disappeared,” he said.
Meanwhile, calling it a “much larger issue”, the Congress said, “This is politics of vendetta… It reflects the mindset of the government. A mindset of pettiness, a mindset of absolutely childish insecurity. Institutional memory of India does not get erased and effaced by such childish acts.”