Photographs tell many tales – especially political ones. Whose photograph is there, whose is missing from the posters of political parties; whose photograph has been added, whose has been dropped – all are stuff for media stories. It was in this context that we decided to find out whose photographs find place in the offices of the ministers of the Delhi government.
The answer to the RTI query put by our colleague Ratanlal, received in July 2013, reveals that only the photographs of the President and the Prime Minister adorn the office of the chief minister. But her ministers have different choices. Only one other minister – Rajkumar Chauhan – has chosen to follow his boss in this respect. He also has the President’s photograph at his Delhi Secretariat office. Dr BR Ambedkar’s photo finds place in the offices of only two ministers – one of whom is a Dalit and the other belongs to a minority community. Similar is the fate of Mahatma Gandhi, who too is the choice of only two ministers.
The Union home ministry has not issued any guidelines regarding whose photographs or portraits can be put up in the offices of state government ministers. In reply to an RTI query, the home ministry said that despite all possible efforts, no circular containing directives, guidelines or suggestions regarding photographs in ministerial offices could be located. Whether directives or guidelines are issued in this matter is also not known to the home ministry.
According to the information provided by the Delhi government, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit’s photograph is the most popular choice of her ministerial colleagues. Of her seven photographs, four are in the office of industries minister Haroon Yusuf at Delhi Secretariat. The office is divided into four parts and each has one photograph of the CM. His office contains 14 photographs of the four generations of the Nehru–Gandhi family. These include one of Jawaharlal Nehru, six of Indira Gandhi and five of Rajiv Gandhi. In one part of the office are the photographs of Rajiv Gandhi and, in the other part, of Indira Gandhi.
Finance minister Dr AK Walia has put up a group photo of Sonia Gandhi, in which he is seen as also the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. But his office does not contain any photograph of Sheila Dikshit. Another minister who has put up a photograph of Sonia Gandhi is Rajkumar Chauhan, who, along with Haroon Yusuf is among the two ministers to have a photograph of BR Ambedkar in his office.
Published in the September 2013 issue of the Forward Press magazine
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