While controversial articles in the December issue of the Congress mouthpiece had made a laughing stock of the party, the previous issue had digs about Nehru’s appointment as PM, and Indira’s ‘troubled marriage’
Mumbai Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam had claimed that it was a one-off lapse that had exposed the party to national ridicule with controversial articles about iconic leaders Jawaharlal Nehru and Sonia Gandhi in the party mouthpiece edited by him.
Nehru and Indira with the US President John F Kennedy and his wife Jackie. Pic/Getty Images
However, dismayed Congressmen have found that the previous edition of the magazine also took digs at Nehru and his daughter Indira.
mid-day had broken the story about the December issue of the ‘Congress Darshan’ (Hindi edition), which had an article blaming India’s first prime minister Nehru for the Kashmir, China and Tibet conflicts. Another write-up labelled Sonia’s father a ‘fascist soldier’.
Sanjay Nirupam (right) and other senior Congress leaders release the November edition, which marked the revival of the party mouthpiece, as well as the birth anniversary of Nehru
This time, party members scanned through the November issue, which not only marked the magazine’s revival, but was also a special edition to mark Nehru’s birth anniversary. To their dismay, they found content raising questions over Nehru’s ‘controversial’ rise to the PM’s post. Another article stated that his daughter and former prime minister Indira Gandhi’s marriage was troubled, and that even though she had separated from her husband, she continued to maintained a ‘married’ status.
A scan from the November issue of Congress Darshan, which states that Nehru became PM because Mahatma Gandhi pulled strings and asked his rivals to drop out of the race
Party members said that if the blunders in the November issue had been noticed by the editorial board (comprising Nirupam and other Congress leaders), the party could have avoided the embarrassment caused by the infamous December issue. The injudicious articles in that issue had gone completely against the party line, and after mid-day’s report on December 28, Congressmen called for the removal of Nirupam, the magazine editor and Mumbai Regional Congress Committee (MRCC) chief. On the same day, he shifted the blame onto local journalist Sudhir Joshi and sacked him for failing to fulfil his duty as the magazine’s ‘content editor’. Nirupam also attempted to quell the party’s displeasure by arguing that it was a one-time gaffe.
In the November issue, the erstwhile content editor Joshi had written a 4-page essay stating that Nehru was made PM solely because Mahatma Gandhi had pulled strings and suggested that his fellow freedom fighters, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and JB Kripalani (aka Acharya Kripalani) drop out of the race, even though they had garnered more votes.
All attempts to reach Joshi yesterday failed because he had switched off his phone. However, he had told ANI last week that he had sent the content to the editor. “It is the party’s mouthpiece and they sacked me because they did not like what I wrote,” he told the news agency.
In another write-up by unidentified author, Nehru’s knowledge of history is questioned. “Discovery of India (a book by Nehru) isn’t a historical account or research work. Nehru has tried to resolve his private affairs through this book,” the article reads. In a paradoxical statement, the article adds that although Nehru’s knowledge of history wasn’t that rich, the book proves that his knowledge of history had different shades.
When mid-day got in touch with Nirupam, he said it was high time that the controversy ended.
“I have sacked the person responsible. I have apologised and taken corrective steps,” he said, adding that he suspected the entire episode was a conspiracy. He also said the party was contemplating taking legal action against Joshi.