Sonia Gandhi has rebuffed an attempt by a powerful section within the Congress to put Pranab Mukherjee and Anand Sharma in the dock by citing critical references to Indira Gandhi in a book, sources said.
They revealed that Sonia found nothing wrong in the book — A Centenary History of the Indian National Congress — and dismissed the controversy as unnecessary.
Some senior leaders had raised the issue within the party forum and a few had complained to Sonia, wondering how Mukherjee and Sharma cleared the disparaging remarks about Indira Gandhi. Mukherjee is the chairperson of the editorial board and Sharma its convener.
“Mukherjee was the chairperson of the editorial board, not the censor board. He couldn’t have cut out a few critical remarks from a comprehensive essay that looks at events with objectivity. Sonia Gandhi understands this and hence the conspiracy failed,” said a senior leader.
Another leader told The Telegraph: “We invited independent scholars with the objective of presenting credible history, not partisan propaganda. This shows our self-belief and maturity. Can the RSS or the BJP invite independent scholars to write their history and role in public life? We also dare the communists to take up such an honest venture.”
Historian Bipan Chandra is the general editor of the book that features articles from 17 contributors.
Mukherjee’s detractors had seized on excerpts from a chapter written by a professor, Sudha Pai. “Indira adopted personality-based politics, through systematic process of centralisation and personalisation of power. She dismantled the party, removed the intermediate leadership and the process of consultative decision-making and re-built it without a democratic structure and with office-bearers personally responsible to her,” Pai had written.
Some Congress leaders pointed out that the allegations were not new. Besides, the same article hails Indira Gandhi for her organisational skills, pro-poor policies, economic and social reforms, green revolution and foreign policy, they added.
The sources pointed out that those who tried to “invent” a case against Mukherjee and Sharma may not have read the foreword written by Sonia. She had written: “Many decisions taken during that period were enveloped in partisan political debate and it is now time to ponder and reflect and to recall the same and preserve it for posterity. This volume is our collective tribute to Indira Gandhi. I place on record my deep appreciation for thorough research by the editorial team led by Pranab Mukherjee and the group of eminent historians and all contributors….”
In the preface, Mukherjee had said the objective was “not necessarily” to portray the “party perspective”. The Telegraph