Postage stamps controversy: Govt says Gandhi family can’t get all honour

New Delhi :A controversy erupted today over the decision to discontinue postage stamps of Indira and Rajiv Gandhi with the government saying only one family can not get this honour, even as the Congress termed the move as “insult to the history” and demanded an apology.

Defending the move, Communications Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad also said that an advisory committee has suggested to replace the picture of Indira Gandhi with that of Yoga on inland letters, but no final decision has been taken as yet.

Prasad said a decision has been taken on advice of the Philatelic Advisory Committee to issue definitive series of stamps in the honour of Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, Deen Dayal Upadhyay, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Sardar Patel, Shivaji, Maulana Azad, Bhagat Singh, JP Narayan, Ram Manohar Lohia, Vivekananda and Maharana Pratap.

“In the definitive stamp series, the focus was (so far) on one family… though other names were there. Mahatma Gandhi was there, Maulana Azad was there. Dr Ambedkar was there. Dr Bhabha was there,” he said.

The Minister said the new series is “inclusive” and seeks to encapsule the contribution of all the leading lights of the freedom movement including Jawaharlal Nehru.

Defending the decision to drop stamps on former Prime Ministers Indira and Rajiv Gandhi stamps, Prasad said the government believes that whoever has contributed in making of India, irrespective of the ideology, should be honoured and postage stamp is a symbol of that honour.

“We feel that this right should not belong to only one family,” he added.

Reacting sharply, Congress said the decision shows a “very narrow mindset” and demanded an apology from the government.

“We condemn the approach and attitude of this Government towards Gandhis who have sacrificed a lot for the nation. It is an insult to history”, Congress party’s senior spokesperson Anand Sharma told reporters here.

Prasad, on his part said, “We have been most liberal and understanding in giving due recognition to people of different ideology and approaches. All of them (who figure in the new series) have contributed in a very significant way to make modern India.”

He further said four commemorative stamps have been issued so far in memory of Indira Gandhi, two in the name of Rajiv Gandhi and seven times on Nehru.

“We need to ponder why so many commemorative stamps have been issued in memory of members of one family,” he added.