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By now, it is patently clear that the Congress does not belong to the rose-by-another-name school of thought. After having dropped the idea of naming the Food Security Act after Rajiv Gandhi, Congress leaders have settled on Indira Gandhi for the main scheme under the Act. Under this scheme, 5 kg bags of grain will be dispensed to beneficiaries, branded with the legend—“Indiramma”. As far as the Congress is concerned, food security by another name will not smell the same. At present, there are about 12 central schemes, nearly 60 state schemes, 30 sports tournaments or trophies, 20 stadiums, over 100 educational institutions, 50 awards and 40 hospitals that bear the Nehru-Gandhi name, not to mention hundreds of roads and parks. From calf-rearing to kabaddi to drinking water to international peace—it’s all in the name of the Congress.
Over the years, the Congress’s insistence on branding its pet schemes and projects has led to competitive naming by other parties. When the NDA was in power at the Centre, several welfare schemes and institutions were named after BJP leaders and in Tamil Nadu, Jayalalithaa woos voters with idlis for R1 at Amma canteens and Amma water for R10. The branding game has also led to turf wars. In Himachal Pradesh, about a dozen schemes were named after Atal Bihari Vajpayee when the BJP was in power. The new Congress government has either renamed these or scrapped them altogether.
In contrast, the neutrally named NREGA was taken up with such alacrity by non-Congress state governments that the Congress decided to prefix it with “Mahatma Gandhi”. And the UPA’s Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) has done much better in states not led by the Congress. Maybe the Centre now wishes the R stood for Rajiv?