The Congress, a constituent of the ruling coalition in Bihar, has been left red-faced as the state government’s official website called former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s rule worse than the British reign in India.
Enraged Congress leaders have planned to take up the issue with chief minister Nitish Kumar.
“It was he (Jay Prakash Narayan) who steadfastly and staunchly opposed the autocratic rule of Indira Gandhi and her younger son, Sanjay Gandhi. Fearing people’s reaction to his opposition, Indira Gandhi had him arrested on the eve of declaring National Emergency beginning June 26, 1975. He was put in the Tihar Jail, located near Delhi, where notorious criminals are jailed,” reads a paragraph on modern history in the website.
“Thus, in Free India, this septuagenarian, who had fought for India’s freedom alongside Indira Gandhi’s father, Jawahar Lal Nehru, received a treatment that was worse than what the British had meted out to Gandhiji in Champaran in 1917, for his speaking out against oppression,” it says.
The references were made in the history of Bihar section under state profile. “The references to Indira Gandhi are totally unacceptable and we will raise the matter in the party and request the leadership to take up the issue with the chief minister,” state Congress leader Chandan Yadav said.
“Indira Gandhi was a very popular leader and people in Bihar still remember her for empowering the downtrodden through the Belchi struggle and Garibi Hatao movement.”
Bihar government officials feigned ignorance about the contents on the website. “I am not aware of it. We will get it checked,” said senior bureaucrat Pratyaya Amrit when contacted by Hindustan Times.
Janata Dal (United) spokesman Neeraj Kumar said the truth should be reflected. “I don’t remember what is there.”
The government’s official website was launched on February 11, 2014. More than a year on, the ruling JD(U) and Congress along with the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) of Lalu Prasad joined hands to form a mahagathbandhan or grand alliance that went on to defeat the BJP in the 2015 assembly polls.
The Congress recorded its best-ever performance in 25 years, winning 27 of 41 seats it had contested as part of the grand alliance.
“The movement started by JP, however, brought the Emergency to an end, led to the massive defeat of Indira Gandhi and her Congress Party at the polls, and, to the installation of a non-Congress government — the Janata Party — at Delhi, for the first time. With the blessings of JP, Morarji Desai became the fourth Prime Minister of India. JP remained the Conscience of the Janata Party and of post-Gandhi, post-Nehru India. He gave a call to all Indians to work ceaselessly towards eliminating ‘dictatorship in favour of democracy’ and bringing about ‘freedom from slavery’,” the website says.