Congress president Sonia Gandhi is upset with the Centre for not preventing the auction of Mahatma Gandhi’s belongings in London last Tuesday, sources said.
Many senior party functionaries have also expressed their resentment over the issue, stating that the UPA government should have spared no effort to stop the memorabilia from going under the hammer.
Congress sources said the party’s displeasure would be conveyed to the government at the highest level, and a formal communication would be sent to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in this regard.
The collection included a pinch of sand soaked with Gandhi's blood from his assassination in 1948, eight letters, some handwritten and typed postcards, a pair of spectacles, a piece of flannel with reading glass, a prayer book in Gujarati, and a gramophone record containing speeches delivered by him at prayer meetings.
These priceless memorabilia had for long been preserved by a Kerala-based Gandhian, Antony Chittattukara.
A senior party functionary said the Centre had not demonstrated “sensitivity” in the way it handled the case. “The government was inactive, and the way the entire issue was handled was objectionable,” he said.
The auction has generated a lot of heat among Gandhi's followers in Gujarat, his home state, where assembly elections are due later this year. A few followers cited the example of liquor baron Vijay Mallya, who had bought an assortment of Gandhi's belongings for $1.8 million at an auction in 2009.
There were angry reactions from other parts of the country as well. Hindi writer Giriraj Kishore decided to return the Padma Shri awarded to him in 2007 to mark his protest.