On 20th August, Congress celebrated Rajiv Gandhi’s birth anniversary. Well, that was another scam, to summarize. On 20th August, there were 108 ads amounting to more than 48 published pages in 12 prominent newspapers of India. Among the 21 advertisers extolling the virtues of the dear departed were the ministries of information and broadcasting, micro small and medium enterprises, power, health and family welfare, tourism, housing and urban poverty alleviation, new and renewable energy, women and child development, commerce and industry, steel, and social justice and empowerment. These advertisements were paid for from the public purse, but without the consent or concurrence of the public.
Ads put out by government departments enjoy a substantial discount. Still, the fact that so many ads were taken, and in so many editions of so many newspapers, must mean that the aggregate cost would have been very substantial indeed. Let’s minimize it and claim that perhaps only Rs 60 or 70 crore were spent by the taxpayer on praising Rajiv Gandhi in 12 English and many other regional newspapers. 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.
By way of comparison, the pay-offs in the case of the Bofors gun were estimated to be Rs 130 crore. Compare it with the 300 crore that has been spent in praising our beloved departed scandalous prime minister. They are living up-to their glorious tradition. And all of this happened, under the nose of a civil protest brewing in cities which was particularly protesting against corruption. I am amused.