New Delhi: The government today defended its decision to discontinue stamps of former Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi under the definitive series saying that postage stamps should honour leading lights of the nation and not members of one family.
Communications Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said that on the advice of the Philatelic Advisory Committee, it has been decided to issue definitive series of stamps in the honour of Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, Deen Dayal Upadhyay, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Shivaji, Maulana Azad, Bhagat Singh, Jayaprakash Narayan, Ram Manohar Lohia, Vivekananda and Maharana Pratap.
"In the definitive stamp series, the focus was on one family...though other names were there. Mahatma Gandhi was there, Maulana Azad was there. Dr Ambedkar was there. Dr Bhabha was there.
"Here the entire definitive series is an inclusive series which seeks to encapsule the contribution of all the leading lights of the freedom movement including Jawaharlal Nehru. We have been most liberal and understanding in giving due recognition to people of different ideology and approaches.
All of them have contributed in a very significant way to make modern India," the minister said.
On whether there was a proposal to remove the name of Indira Gandhi from inland letters, Prasad said the advisory committee has suggested Yoga and but no decision has yet been taken.
Congress yesterday criticised the government's decision to discontinue postal stamps issued in memory of Indira and Rajiv saying it was a "sinister attempt to erase the memory of the two martyr Prime Ministers of the country".
In addition to the use of postage stamps for regular use under the definitive series, the government also issues commemorative postage stamps.