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Editor clears air on Indira comments

Days after some adverse comments on Indira Gandhi in a volume of the Centenary History of the Indian National Congress created controversy, editor of the volume, historian Aditya Mukherjee sought to clear the air. HT reports.

delhi Updated: Jun 02, 2011 01:05 IST
HT Correspondent

Days after some adverse comments on Indira Gandhi in a volume of the Centenary History of the Indian National Congress created controversy, editor of the volume, historian Aditya Mukherjee sought to clear the air.

“Many in the media have selectively picked up a few lines…,” Mukherjee said in a statement. “Often, even the article of the contributor quoted is not read fully.”

Pointing out that Volume V — covering the period between 1964 and 1984 — was part of a series conceived by Gandhi in 1976, of which three volumes were released by Rajiv Gandhi, Mukherjee added: “The volumes were edited by eminent academics like Ravinder Kumar and NR Ray…They were chosen because they were the best experts not on the basis of their political affiliations. The idea was to objectively evaluate the history of the Congress…It was not to resemble common party pamphlets full of hagiography of its leaders.”

“In an earlier volume (Vol. IV) while evaluating India’s foreign and defence policy, particularly vis-à-vis China, one author felt free to critically comment on Jawaharlal Nehru... This by no means diminished the great role played by Nehru in the building of independent India,” Mukherjee underlined.

He said as editor, he had chosen 16 experts to write chapters on various themes, and added that union ministers on the editorial board — Pranab Mukherjee and Anand Sharma — made no attempt to influence him.

“The attempt…is not to give accolades or apportion blame but to assess objectively the developments of this period. In fact this period… dominated by Indira Gandhi has…not received a balanced treatment partially because of the intense heat generated by… the ‘emergency’, ‘operation blue star’ and the anti-Sikh riots… “

The JNU historian appealed to Congressmen to read the volume, “It is a book not written by party loyalists but independent scholars and yet it is perhaps one of the most rigorous and yet sympathetic accounts of the considerable strides India made… under… one of the tallest leaders...since independence, Indira Gandhi.”