The Congress was left red-faced on Monday after an in-house publication published two articles that belittled former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and party chief Sonia Gandhi, prompting the BJP to make fun of its main rival for the goof-up.
Articles by unnamed writers in Congress Darshan, the Hindi edition of the Congress Mumbai unit’s monthly magazine, called Gandhi’s father a member of “fascist forces” in Italy and that she became the party president merely 62 days after becoming its member in 1997.
Another article suggested that Nehru should have listened to freedom fighter and former home minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel’s views on international affairs.
“Had Patel been heard (by Nehru) then, the problems of Kashmir, China, Tibet and Nepal wouldn’t have existed now,” the article said.
The party sacked the magazine’s content editor, Sudhir Joshi, after the articles published on its 131st foundation day became a major embarrassment.
Several party leaders demanded action against Mumbai Congress president Sanjay Nirupam, the editor of the publication, while some suspected a conspiracy behind it. Nirupam took responsibility for the faux pas.
The BJP wasted no time in needling the Congress, which has been steadfastly resisting the NDA government’s proposed measures for big-ticket policy changes.
Union minister Prakash Javadekar made a left-handed compliment to Nirupam for “unraveling the truth”. He said it was a “cut and paste” job by Nirupam who was known for such write-ups during his earlier stint as editor of Shiv Sena mouthpiece Dopahar Ka Saamana.
“This is not BJP or Javadekar saying so but the mouthpiece of Congress. What Congress had been hiding has come out. I congratulate Sanjay Nirupam.”
Mumbai BJP leader Mohit Kamboj said he has written to Nirupam for his “courage”.
The Congress Darshan has also blamed Mahatma Gandhi for not allowing Sardar Patel to become the prime minister. “Respecting the desire of Mahatma Gandhi, Patel refrained himself as frontrunners for the post of prime minister. This is despite most of the regional committees of the Congress were in favour of Patel,” an article said.
Furious over the howlers, senior Congress MLA and former minister Arif Naseem Khan said he was surprised that the language used by the RSS against the Congress and the Gandhi family was used in the party mouthpiece as well.
“I am suspicious that this is a deliberate attempt to weaken and defame the party,” he said, hinting at sabotage.
Former Union minister Milind Deora cautioned that such mistakes should not recur. “Glad action has been taken against writer of unsound piece. Leaders must show caution, avoid such mistakes in future,” he tweeted.
Bhushan Patil, a member of the magazine’s editorial board, said former journalist Joshi was given the responsibility to choose the content. “He (Joshi) was supposed to take approval from Chitrasen Singh and Nizamuddin Rayeen (members of the editorial board) before taking any decision. However, this time he took the content without prior approval from any of them. So he was removed for the blunder.”
Significantly, there is no mention of Joshi in the entire December issue of Congress Darshan.
Some Congress functionaries alleged that Joshi was associated with the RSS, the BJP’s ideological mentor. Joshi was not available for comment.
“We have nothing to do with this publication. It was a defunct magazine … trying to revive. That is not our mouthpiece,” party spokesman Tom Vadakkan told reporters in Delhi.
(With inputs from HT Correspondent, New Delhi)