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Modi govt adds Bismillah, Biju to non-Nehru-Gandhi pantheon

May 22, 2016 05:45 AM

 coursteyMay 22 2016 : The Times of India (Ahmedabad)
Modi govt adds Bismillah, Biju to non-Nehru-Gandhi pantheon
Himanshi Dhawan
New Delhi


Novelist Amritlal Nagar Also Among 5 Icons
As part of the Modi government's plan to step away from leaders from the NehruGandhi lineage and celebrate new icons, the National Implementation Committee under home minister Rajnath Singh has announced plans to commemorate five eminent figures, including BJD founder and two-time Odisha CM Biju Patnaik and shehnai maestro Ustad Bismillah Khan.
Though the move has been in the works, the decision comes days after actor Rishi Kapoor's tweets on the dominance of the Gandhi family in the names of various “national assets“. It enhances the political process to de-emphasise Congress's first family by celebrating personalities from culture, politics and history who did not find much favour earlier.

The Modi government has ensured inclusion of figures who resonate with its “rashtrawadi (nationalistic)“ constituencies while also ensuring inclusion of minority community figures so that the list of national icons does not appear sectarian. Last year, Tantia Tope, a leading figure of the 1857 war against the British and16th century Rajput ruler of Mewar Maharana Pratap, signalled this trend.

The year will be the birth centenary of Patnaik, Bismillah Khan (who also belongs to PM Modi's constituency of Varanasi), Hindi novelist Amritlal Nagar and renowned Carnatic vocalist M S Subbulakshmi.This year also marks the 150th birth anniversary of Swami Abhedananda, founder of the Ramakrishna Vedanata Math and disciple of Ramkrishna Paramhans.

The committee includes ministers Arun Jaitley and Mahesh Sharma besides officials.Apart from year-long celebrations which include performances and special programmes, sources said plans are afoot to build memorials for these icons and institute stamps and coins in their remembrance. The government will also publish books, music and other memorabilia.

“The committee is also considering names who played a significant role in the freedom struggle of 1857 like Rani Laxmibai and Mangal Pandey , freedom fighters like Bal Gangadhar Tilak and social activist Nanaji Deshmukh,'' a government source said.

This is the second set of personalities who are being honoured. In 2015, the government had announced seven names whose centenaries were celebrated through the year. Among those who were commemorated included Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan, known as Frontier Gandhi, birth centenary of Rani Gaidinliu, 150th birth anniversary of Lala Lajpat Rai, 200th birth anniversary of Tatya Tope, 475th birth anniversary of Maharana Pratap, birth centenary of Bhisham Sahni and 500 years of return of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu to Vrindavan

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