The ruling People’s Democratic Alliance (PDA) in Nagaland, of which the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is a major partner, seems to be oblivious to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s sentiments. The PDA has, while issuing a directive to the members of the ruling coalition not to receive gifts at public functions, has advised that flowers and bouquets, “preferably fresh”, may be received.
In July 2017, the Ministry of Home Affairs had announced that flower bouquets cannot be presented to Prime Minister Modi during his tours within India. The move was a follow-up after Modi, during a trip to Kerala, had urged people to gift him a book instead of a bouquet of flowers, along with a khadi handkerchief. Even in his radio address to the nation, in ‘Maan Ki Baat’, Modi had stressed on gifts that stay, rather than flowers that are thrown away after a few days, citing a practice followed by Kerala-based P.N. Panicker Foundation.
A press release issued by the Nagaland Chief Minister’s Office, following a cabinet meeting of the PDA on Monday, stated: “PDA Members will not receive gifts and presentations in public functions and events and it is advised that flowers and bouquets – preferably fresh – may be received at the time and point of arrival at the programme venue while alighting from and no manner of presents should be received during the functions (sic).”
Seeking to curb the VIP culture, and underscoring austerity and conservation, the cabinet has directed all members of the PDA to abstain from attending functions as chief guest. Moreover, the cabinet has also resolved that the PDA MLAs “would refrain from making donations and announcement of monetary grants while attending public programmes and functions”.
Inviting VIPs to public functions with the expectation of monetary donations from them has been the prevalent culture in Nagaland. Time and again, many including Neiphiu Rio in his previous stint as chief minister, had spoken out against the trend.
Speaking to indianexpress.com, the lone JDU minister in the PDA cabinet, G Kaito Aye, lauded the cabinet decision to discourage the culture of “expecting monetary donations.”
He added, “Doing away with the VIP culture, particularly of legislators not attending public functions, will also lessen the burden on the common people, particularly in villages, who go beyond their economic means to host MLAs as hospitality is in the culture of the Nagas.”
Government officials and employees of the state government have also been directed not to attend functions as chief guest and donating funds or announcing monetary grants at public functions, which goes against against service rules.
Underlining the renewed effort of conservation of wildlife in Nagaland, the ruling PDA has directed all its MLAs including government employees, not to accept any manner of presentations of wildlife and wildlife produce or food. “All efforts must be made by the entire government machinery to preserve and protect the environment and wildlife in all its activities,” the cabinet resolved.
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