An article in Congress Darshan, a journal published by the Congress’s Mumbai unit, alleging that former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru mishandled the Jammu & Kashmir and China issues marred the party’s 131st Foundation Day celebrations on Monday.
The controversy surprised the party leaders who had gathered for the ceremony at the party headquarters early in the morning. By early afternoon, Mumbai Regional Congress Committee (MRCC) head Sanjay Nirupam apologised for the write-up and later in the evening the content editor Sudhir Joshi was sacked.
“Words used in one of the articles of Congress Darshan are absolutely objectionable. I accept the mistake. I am the namesake editor of the magazine. Action will be taken against people from the editorial board responsible for this mistake and we will ensure that no such mistake is committed in future,” said Mr. Nirupam.
Most leaders refused to comment on the anonymously written article published on December 15 on the death anniversary of Congress stalwart Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
Apart from blaming Nehru for ignoring Patel’s advice and playing into the hands of Pakistan by taking the Kashmir dispute to the United Nations in 1949, the article also taunts Congress president Sonia Gandhi, calling her ancestors in Italy “fascists.”
The Maharashtra Pradesh Congress Committee too sought to explain the goof-up. “Such references are not only false but paint the party in a bad light for no reason,” said MPCC spokesperson Sachin Sawant. “The matter should have been closely scrutinised before publishing it in a party mouthpiece.”
Sonia keeps mum on controversy
Even as the critical article on former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru published in a party journal kicked up an embarrassing controversy, at the Congress headquarters in Delhi, party president Sonia Gandhi refused to interact with reporters. Yet, as she walked out of the venue, a reporter hurled a quick question at her: “Ma’am, Rahul Gandhi is ready to be the party president, why don’t you approve it?”
Ms. Gandhi stared at the reporter and said: “Happy new year.”
Earlier, Ms. Gandhi followed the party ritual and had tea with senior leaders like Manmohan Singh, Rahul Gandhi, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Anand Sharma, Salman Khurshid, Sheila Dixit, Shakeel Ahmed and Shashi Tharoor.