Row Over Article Against Indira Gandhi

Row Over Article Against Indira Gandhi

A controversy erupted here today over an article in Bihar government website denouncing Indira Gandhi, with opposition BJP and its allies seeking to drive a wedge between the ruling coalition partners JD(U) and Congress even as the write up was removed.

While JD(U) sought to play down the matter, saying the article has no relevance now and there was no point in scratching history, Congress said it would take up the issue with Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.

The article on the history of Bihar had described Indira Gandhi as "autocratic" and said that during Emergency, the state's tallest leader Jay Prakash Narayan had suffered a treatment which was "worse" than the one meted out to Mahatma Gandhi in Champaran during the freedom struggle.

As a row erupted over it, the content was now missing from the official website but no one owned up for removing it.

Information and Publication Department Secretary Pratyaya Amrit said, "we have nothing to do with this...PRD is not in picture."

Director, Public Relations Department, Bipin Kumar Singh said the state government's website is updated by the National Informatics Centre (NIC).

However, the opposition BJP and its allies LJP and Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) utilised the issue to target the Grand Secular government of RJD, JD(U) and Congress.

LJP leader and Union minister Ramvilas Paswan said since the content was on official website of the state government, it meant RJD President Lalu Prasad and CM Nitish Kumar were aware of it.

Noting that his party is in agreement with the content on JP, Paswan told PTI, "we have been disciples of Jayprakash Narayan and were with him in the stir during Emergency".

Seeking to draw a wedge among the partners of the ruling coalition in Bihar, he pointed to the "contradictory" relationship between the partners.

"On one hand, RJD and JD(U) are running government with Congress in Bihar and on the other hand, they are also attacking Congress, an ally," Paswan said.

In Delhi, BJP's national secretary Shrikant Sharma said, "Earlier it was 'Congress Darshan' and now we have the Bihar government's website. Truth is coming out. Whatever Congress may say, these are the facts coming out."

Senior party leader in Bihar Nand Kishore Yadav said the reference about JP was a "historical fact."

"If the Bihar government tweaks the historical fact under pressure from Congress, the BJP will strongly stage a protest," Nand Kishore Yadav, MLA and a former leader of opposition in Bihar Assembly, said.

Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) of former CM Jitan Ram Manjhi, an ally of BJP, criticised Congress for "digesting humiliation to their tall leaders for the sake of chair."

In a statement, HAM spokesman Danish Rizwan said, "Chulu Bhar Paani me dub mare Congress walleh...Kursi ke liye apne purvajo ko aur kitna jalil karenge Congress walleh (Congress men should die in shame...How long they would humiliate their ancestors for the sake of chair)."

JD(U) spokesman Neeraj Kumar, however, sought to play down the issue.

"The state government does not have any bad intention. In the changing circumstances it does not have any relevance and there is no point scratching history now," said Kumar.

"Correction was desirable and concerned officials would look into the issue," he added.

Congress state President Ashok Choudhary said he would take up the matter with the Chief Minister.

Talking to reporters Choudhary recalled contributions of Late Indira Gandhi in formation of Bangladesh and her call for "Garibi Hatao" in the country.

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