On the face of it, the naming of some institutions under the finance, external affairs and the defence ministries after departed BJP leaders Arun Jaitley, Sushma Swaraj and Manohar Parrikar may appear to be simple executive decisions.
However, in reality, these decisions show the emotional and personal connect that Prime Minister Narendra Modi shared with these leaders.
The National Institute of Financial Management (NIFM) has been renamed as Arun Jaitley National Institute of Financial Management (AJNIFM), Pravasi Bharatiya Kendra as Sushma Swaraj Bhawan and Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) as Manohar Parrikar Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses.
This marks a shift from the Congress era, when institutions, schemes and projects were almost mechanically named and renamed after three members of the "first family" — Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi.
It is pertinent to note that as per an RTI response in 2013, as many as 450 difference schemes, projects and institutions were named after members of the Nehru-Gandhi family. As per the RTI, 12 Central and 52 state schemes, 28 sports tournaments and trophies, 19 stadiums, 5 airports and ports, 98 educational institutions, 51 awards, 15 fellowships, 15 national sanctuaries and parks, 39 hospitals and medical institutions, 37 institutions, chairs and festivals and 74 roads, buildings and places are named after Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi.
In contrast, the Modi government has named projects, schemes and institutions in the name of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Mahatma Gandhi, Deen Dayal Upadhyay, Sardar Patel, Syama Prasad Mookherjee and several other leaders.
Anyone who has followed Modi and the BJP knows that the prime minister shared a deep personal bond with Jaitley. They had been friends since their formative years, when Jaitley was a budding BJP leader in Delhi, and Modi had visited the National Capital while pursuing his bachelor's degree through a Delhi University correspondence course. Jaitley had for long been the Rajya Sabha MP from Gujarat, and was closely involved in the Gujarat elections when Modi as chief minister led the BJP's campaign in the state and won it for three consecutive times. When Modi became prime minister, Jaitley for some time handled four key ministries — finance, corporate affairs, information and broadcasting and defence. Finance remained his primary ministerial responsibility.
Jaitley's demise was a personal loss to Modi. It was thus a fitting tribute to him by the Modi government to name the National Institute of Financial Management and the Ferozshah Kotla Stadium in Delhi after him (his connection to the stadium being that he was the DDCA chief for a long time.)
Sushma Swaraj was not among the leaders who were perceived to be close to Modi when he became prime minister. Nevertheless, she got the ministry she wished to head. Swaraj, as the external affairs minister, had made her mark as an administrator, bringing a humane touch to issues and problems relating to migrant Indians. She worked in complete coordination with Modi and the prime minister's office, and the supposed initial trust deficit between the two disappeared after the initial few months.
Manohar Parrikar had a special connect with Modi. Parrikar, as chief minister, had hosted two BJP conclaves in Goa, in 2003 and 2013 — both of which defined Modi’s future course. Later, Modi personally pushed an initially reluctant Parrikar to come to Delhi and join his Cabinet as defence minister. Parrikar had a track record of being an astute administrator, and a leader whose integrity was unquestionable. During his tenure, the Modi government took made several key defence equipment purchases, including Rafale.
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Updated Date: Feb 19, 2020 23:42:55 IST