The Nehru-Gandhi family, not surprisingly, emerges as the government's favourite when it comes to expenditure on newspaper advertisements on former leaders. Over the past five years, more than a third of UPA-2's spending on newspaper advertisements for birth and death anniversaries of former leaders has been on Rajiv Gandhi, Indira Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru. Of the total Rs 142.3 crore spent on newspaper advertisement on former leaders, Rs 53.2 crore was used for ads on the trio.
According to the directorate of advertisement and visual publicity (DAVP), in the five years between 2008-09 and 2012-13, the government has published ads on birth and death anniversaries of 15 former leaders.
With Rs 38.3 crore spent on his death and birth anniversary, Mahatma Gandhi accounts for the highest ad allocation for any individual leader. The Mahatma is followed by Rajiv Gandhi, B R Ambedkar, Indira Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru in that order.
B R Ambedkar is the only non Nehru-Gandhi leader who had more than Rs 10 crore worth of allocation for central government ads. The top five leaders on the list accounted for over Rs 100 crore of the ad spending, more than two-thirds of the total expenditure.
The government spent Rs 8.6 crore to observe the birth or death anniversaries of Sardar Patel, while the cost of keeping Babu Jagjivan Ram alive in public memory was Rs 6.2 crore. Former prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri accounted for Rs 3 crore of government spending and the expenditure on the birth anniversaries of Maulana Azad and S Radhakrishnan was Rs 2 crore and Rs 1.2 crore respectively.
It appears that the government is relatively less generous in remembering non-Congress leaders, apart from Ambedkar. Apart from leaders from the Congress party, the list also includes Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose, Bhagat Singh, Raj Guru and Sukhdev. The only non-political figure on the list is Swami Vivekananda, presumably because his 150th birth anniversary was in January this year.
The expenditure on commemorating the martyrdom of Bhagat Singh, Raj Guru and Sukhdev was Rs 9.7 crore, while the ad spending on birthdays of Netaji and Swami Vivekananda was Rs 50 lakh and Rs 90 lakh respectively.