Mumbai: The Maharashtra Legislative Council witnessed an uproar on Monday with the Congress demanding removal of certain sections on former Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi from the state board’s history textbook for class IX.
Raising the issue, Congress MLC Sanjay Dutt demanded that the “defamatory reference” to the ex-Prime Ministers on the Emergency and the Bofors scam must be withdrawn.
A controversy erupted recently after the Maharashtra State Bureau of Textbook Production and Curriculum Research, popularly known as Balbharti, had revised the syllabus for class IX.
“The textbook makes no mention of the fact that the Supreme Court had given a clean chit to Rajiv Gandhi in the Bofors case. This is not only disrespect of the Supreme Court order but deliberate hiding of facts for political purposes,” Mr Dutt said.
He claimed that attempts were being made to tarnish the image of the two political stalwarts of the Congress who gave their lives for the nation.
“The sections referring to the two leaders must be immediately removed and action taken against officials responsible,” the Congress leader said.
The Congress got support from party ally NCP, with its MLC Sunil Tatkare heaping praise on the two former prime ministers. “It was Rajiv Gandhi who led the technology revolution in the country and it was he who first spoke about digital India. Had he not been there, we could never have achieved technological advancements,” Mr Tatkare claimed.
He went on to say that the contribution of the Nehru-Gandhi family in building the foundation of the country is immense.
“Do not spoil the minds of young children with your corrupt mentality. You will destroy the nation. Remember that Rajiv Gandhi’s stature was such that then president of the US (Ronald Reagan) had held an umbrella for him as he had left the White House while it was raining,” Mr Tatkare said.
The NCP leader advised that students should instead be taught about the “supreme sacrifices” made by the two prime ministers for the nation.
Acknowledging the strong sentiments of the House over the issue, Education Minister Vinod Tawde said that the feelings of the members will be conveyed to the textbook bureau for necessary action.
“Nothing has been written in the books for political motives. The board (Balbharti) decides on what has to be published. I have not interfered in their decision being a minister. I will not make any political intervention but convey the sentiments of the members to the board,” Mr Tawde said.
He pointed out that nowhere in the textbook has Indira Gandhi or Rajiv Gandhi been shown as being guilty of any wrongdoings, but only the sequence of events up to the year 2000 has been published. “Rajiv Gandhi got a clean chit in 2004. Hence that was not mentioned (in the book),” he said.
“So far, history of the pre-Independence era was being taught to students and hence they had no knowledge about the happenings in independent India. Hence it was decided to include history of the post-independence period (up to the year 2000),” Mr Tawde added.