New Delhi: The fact that Congress power is clearly going downhill was made evident today, when there was close to zero press coverage for Rajiv Gandhi's death anniversary.
The 23rd death anniversary of former PM today saw one small article by the Haryana government. According to reports in IBNLive, there were no other advertisements paying homage to Gandhi today.
PM Modi, in a tweet, said: ""My homage to former PM Shri Rajiv Gandhi on his death anniversary."
My homage to former PM Shri Rajiv Gandhi on his death anniversary.
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) May 21, 2014
A few media houses, like the Outlook magazine and the Times of India also paid their condolences over Twitter.
On an average, the media largely ignored the day. According to the IBNLive report, the usual trend on this day is a flood on advertisements on the death and the birth of Rajiv Gandhi.
"Almost all ministries and the Congress-held state governments used to spend crores on these advertisements every year," said the report.
The Indian Airlines, with whom Rajiv Gandhi worked as a pilot before joining politics, also usually issues a statement with their homage. This year, however, even the Indian Airlines gave the day a miss.
Also missing were the lavish photo spreads and footage of the Gandhi family paying their respects at Rajiv's memorial, usually accompanied by Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh. This year, Rahul and Priyanka intead made news for returning to Amethi instead, their first after the electoral debacle.
On Rajiv's 20th death anniversary in 2011, media blog Sans Serif wrote, "In eleven English news and business papers published out of New Delhi, there were 65 advertisements amounting to 38¼ pages, glorifying The Great Leader, without whom India wouldn’t have entered the 21st century."
But even on his 19th death anniversary -- a number less notable -- historian Ramachandra Guha remarked on the absurd scale of the amount spent mourning the dead leader: "A back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests that on May 21, 2010, perhaps Rs 60 or 70 crore were spent by the taxpayer — without his and her consent — on praising Rajiv Gandhi. Since the practice has been in place since 2005, the aggregate expenditure to date on this account is probably in excess of Rs 300 crore."
The sheer scale of the various celebrations and commemorations of the various members of the Gandhi family therefore makes this year's silence all the remarkable -- and significant. It is perhaps the single most visible symbol of the decline of the dynasty, almost as telling as the paltry 44 seats won by the Congress party.
Updated Date: May 21, 2014 14:36:02 IST