The Congress on Wednesday endorsed the contents of the book Congress and the Making of the Indian Nation, describing them as a reflection of history.
Spokesman Shakeel Ahmed, however, denied reports that suggested that the party was trying to “demean” Sanjay Gandhi, whose style of functioning the book described as “authoritarian”.
“The book says he was a leader of significance and eminence… It talks about some acts during Emergency for which Indira Gandhi had also offered regrets… All this is part of history. There is nothing new in this,” he said.
He denied any comparison of Sonia Gandhi with Mahatma Gandhi regarding her renunciation of the prime minister’s post.
“It is not a question of comparison but of drawing inspiration,” he said.
With the Congress chief and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh releasing the book at the AICC plenary, the Congress cannot disown the book prepared by a team of historians in consultation with the party.
The book also debunks charges that the Congress had destabilised the HD Deve Gowda and IK Gujral governments—a charge which the opposition used effectively against it in the 1998 and 1999 Lok Sabha polls. According to it, the United Front experiment failed as it could not fulfil its own common minimum programme and repeatedly sought to undermine the Congress politically.
The book also blames the “collusion” of the then BJP government in UP for the demolition of the Babri Masjid in 1992, thereby obliquely backing late PM PV Narasimha Rao, who was accused of failing to protect the structure.
On Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, the book said their “refusal” to occupy government posts reflects a re-orientation of the leaders towards rebuilding the party and seeing themselves as servants of the people and not the rulers. “In a way, this also reflects the growing realisation that the party needs to re-engage with its social base,” it said. Ahmed declined to comment. “I have not gone through that chapter of the book,” he said.