NEW DELHI: Stung by the intolerance debate unleashed by the Opposition in Parliament, the NDA government has decided to dig out examples to hurl back the charges at the Congress camp. The Union health ministry has taken a lead in this matter.
The health ministry, sources say, has chanced upon evidence of how the Congress-led UPA had quietly decided to do away with the names given to the six new All India Institute of Medical Sciences announced, by Atal Bihari Vajpayee when he was the prime minister, in 2003.
Vajpayee had announced setting up six new AIIMS-like institutes in his Independence Day speech in 2003 in Bhopal, Raipur, Bhubaneswar, Patna, Jodhpur and Rishikesh. All the six new AIIMS had also been named after leaders, whom the BJP considers their social and political mascots.
While the Bhopal AIIMS had been named after Vijayraje Scindia, the one in Raipur was named after Sardar Patel. AIIMS Bhubaneswar was named after Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, and the one in Patna after Lok Nayak Jayprakash Narayan. AIIMS Jodhpur after Meera Bai and AIIMS Rishikesh after Veer Chandra Singh Garhwali.
However, when the AIIMS amendment bill was passed in parliament by the UPA in 2012, there were no names given to any of the six institutions, the gazette notification shows.
To set up the new AIIMS, the AIIMS Act 1956 had to be amended as it was only meant for establishment of AIIMS, New Delhi. The new Act which came into force with effect from July 2012, makes each of the new AIIMS an institution of national importance.
Over the years, there were voices of dissent when it became known that the names had been abolished. For example, when Meera Bai’s name was dropped from AIIMS Jodhpur, political and civil society activists joined hands with Rajput organizations to demand that her name be re-appended to the institute’s name.
The health ministry will now be using this example as an example of intolerance on the part of the Congress regime, ministry sources said. Similarly, other ministries have also been told to dig out such examples, which show that the intolerance accusation can be extended to the other side as well, the source said.
Since the new institutes in the six locations, the government has now announced setting up of 19 AIIMS in total across the country.
In the budget speech for 2015-16, the finance minister proposed to set up AllMS in Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, Himachal Pradesh and Assam. The ministry has also finalized the site for the setting up of an AIIMS-like institute in Bathinda, Punjab.