Mumbai/New Delhi: The Congress on Monday sacked Sudhir Joshi, content editor of the ‘Congress Darshan’ publication, for certain objectionable remarks on Jawaharlal Nehru and party chief Sonia Gandhi. While Mumbai Congress president Sanjay Nirupam apologised, the Congress said it was not a party journal and he apologised in his personal capacity.
Kicking off a furore in political circles, the unattributed article in the publication discussed the manner in which the Kashmir issue was handled by Nehru and his relations with India’s first home minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. It also spoke about Sonia Gandhi’s father and marriage and some of her political strategies in the past few years.
“Some words used in some articles of ‘Congress Darshan’ are certainly objectionable. I accept my mistake,” Nirupam admitted.
A former journalist and editor-in-chief of the publication, Nirupam also promised to take action against people in the editorial panel who were responsible for the mistakes.
“We shall also ensure that such mistakes are not repeated in the future,” he said, before the sacking of Joshi was announced.
Congress spokesperson Tom Vaddakan told reporters that ‘Congress Darshan’ was “not a party journal and not a party publication”.
He said it was a defunct magazine which “some people had tried to restart” and “the party has no connection with it”.
Asked about Nirupam apologising for the mistake, Vaddakan said “he had done so in his personal capacity”.
“He had not been officially assigned the job,” he said.
Ironically, the goof-up came as the Indian National Congress — founded on December 28, 1885 — celebrated its 130th anniversary on Monday and immediately created a political storm with the Bharatiya Janata Party welcoming it as Nirupam’s “intellectual home-coming (ghar wapasi)”.
In the article, the country’s first prime minister was virtually held responsible for the Kashmir and China imbroglios for not paying heed to his colleague Patel’s advice on international affairs.
“Though Patel got the post of deputy prime minister and home minister, the relations between the two leaders remained strained and both had threatened to resign time and again,” says the article, much to the embarrassment of the party.
The article also points out how India celebrates Patel’s birth anniversary on October 31 as National Unity Day since 2014, forgetting the fact that it was initiated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with the Congress alleging it is an intention to eclipse the memory of another icon, late Indira Gandhi whose death anniversary also falls on that day.
“Nehru was in charge of foreign affairs and kept Kashmir with him citing it as an international issue. But today’s problems could have been avoided if Nehru had considered Patel’s foresight on the issue,” the article said, giving a handle to the right wing forces and the BJP who glorify Patel vis-a-vis other Congress leaders of that era.
On the Goa issue, the article points out how Nehru was upset when Patel declared Indian armed forces could free Goa from Portuguese occupation in just two hours.
“Goa would not have had to wait till 1961 for liberation if Patel’s suggestion was accepted then.”
Focussing on Sonia Gandhi, the article dropped a bombshell by claiming that her father was a member of “Fascist forces” which lost to the Russians in World War II.
Though appearing to pay a compliment, the article says Sonia Gandhi became a primary member of the Congress in 1997 and was elevated as party president in just 62 days, besides discussing her early life in depth, including her desire to become an air hostess.