Magazine controversy: Congress cracks whip on Sanjay Nirupam, demands explanation
Disciplinary panel issued Nirupam a show-cause notice for controversial articles in the party mouthpiece; some say this is a formality to placate detractors
Mumbai Congress president Sanjay Nirupam’s troubles have increased further, as the party’s disciplinary panel has now asked him to explain the magazine controversy that made the Congress a laughing stock on its 131st Foundation Day.
MRCC chief Sanjay Nirupam has a week to explain the magazine controversy to the disciplinary committee. File pic
Nirupam, who heads the party mouthpiece ‘Congress Darshan’, has been under fire ever since mid-day broke the story about injudicious articles on Jawaharlal Nehru and Sonia Gandhi in the December issue (‘Nehru botched Kashmir issue’, December 28). Nirupam reacted by firing part-time content editor Sudhir Joshi, blaming him for the blunder. He explained to the party that such a mistake would never happen. But as this paper revealed on January 7, the previous edition of the magazine had also carried contentious articles about Nehru and Indira Gandhi as well.
Nirupam’s explanations don’t seem to have satisfied the party high command, and the All India Congress Committee (AICC)’s disciplinary panel — headed by former defence minister AK Antony — has been asked to take further action.
A notice was issued to Nirupam on Wednesday, confirmed a senior Congress leader from Delhi. Sources said he has been asked to explain the embarrassing episode within a week. If senior leaders remain unhappy with the explanation, Nirupam might be removed from his current position helming the party’s city unit. However, according to some, this notice is merely a formality to placate angry Congressmen baying for Nirupam’s blood.
The timing of this notice is crucial, since the Nirupam camp had believed that since party vice-president Rahul Gandhi would protect their leader, primarily because he had accepted invitation to visit Mumbai between January 16 and 17.
However, other factions said Rahul’s tour had been decided much earlier as a kick-off for the leader’s pan-India programme to reach out to the masses. They refused to give any credit to Nirupam for making the visit possible.
Nirupam did not respond to mid-day’s attempts to contact him. However, veteran leader and chairman of Congress Seva Dal (Maharashtra), Chandrakant Dayma welcomed the notice. In the aftermath of the magazine controversy, Dayma had written to party president Sonia Gandhi to demand that Nirupam be sacked.
The Congress mouthpiece marked its revival in November with a special Nehru edition that commemorated his birth anniversary (November 14) as well. In the same issue, one of the articles raised doubts about India’s first prime minister’s knowledge of history, and suggested that he rose to the PM’s post because Mahatma Gandhi pulled strings. Another article stated that former PM Indira Gandhi’s marriage was troubled.
The December issue had a six-page essay by an unidentified author who suggested that the party icon Nehru was to blame for the Kashmir, China and Tibet conflicts, as he did not pay heed to the advice of fellow freedom fighter and former home minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. In addition, another article labelled party president Sonia Gandhi’s father a fascist soldier.