MUMBAI: City unit Congress chief Sanjay Nirupam on Monday came under intense criticism from his party over articles in a Congress mouthpiece slamming Jawaharlal Nehru and Sonia Gandhi's father, with a senior leader claiming that terminology used in the write-ups was borrowed from the "RSS dictionary".
Accusing Nirupam, the journal editor, of bringing "disgrace" to the party on the occasion of its 131st Foundation Day, former minister Naseem Khan demanded his ouster from the post even as Shiv Sena and BJP latched onto the blooper and ridiculed the city unit chief.
"The kind of terminology used in compiling the articles was derived from the dictionary of RSS. I demand senior party leaders to take this issue very seriously and conduct a detail inquiry by relieving (Sanjay) Nirupam from the post," said Khan who had held several important portfolios in the previous Congress-led governments.
While one article in Hindi journal 'Congress Darshan' questioned Nehru's China policy, another called Congress president Sonia Gandhi's father a "fascist soldier", leaving the party red-faced.
Meanwhile, Nirupam apologized over the issue and sacked its editorial content in charge Sudhir Joshi today.
Taking potshots at the Congress, BJP's Madhav Bhandari said the write-ups contained nothing new and that "the truth we have been pointing at has now come out".
"Whatever we and all other opposition parties have been saying since long was vindicated today. Congress never thought it necessary to reply to the burning issues on the party leadership, but today its mouthpiece has replied (to) everything," he said.
Stating that Nirupam cannot escape his responsibility as editor of the magazine, Bhandari said, "Any article that does not bear the name of its writer is credited to have been written by editor only, hence Nirupam cannot absolve himself from the responsibility (sic)".
In a sarcastic attack, Shiv Sena "congratulated" Nirupam, a former Shiv Sainik, for "telling truth" to nation.
"We must congratulate Sanjay Nirupam for his boldness to tell the truth about the party's (Congress) icon (Nehru), though this could be a factor of embarrassment for that party," said Sena spokesperson Manisha Kayande.
Delighted at Congress's plight, senior BJP leader and Union Minister Prakash Javadekar, in a left-handed compliment, "congratulated" Nirupam and quipped the former MP from Mumbai was known for such write-ups when he was the editor of the Hindi edition Shiv Sena mouthpiece 'Dopahar Ka Saamana'.
"The Congress journal which is named Congress Darshan should be called 'Satyarth Darshan' (sight of truth). It is significant that it has come on the 131st Foundation Day of the party. Sardar Patel had maximum support in Congress to become the Prime Minister but Gandhiji proposed Nehru and kept Patel at a bay.
"Patel merged 562 provinces into India and Nehru was in charge of only Kashmir and it remains a problem. Patel had warned about China's betrayal on Tibet ... This is not BJP or Javadekar saying so but the mouthpiece of Congress. What Congress had been hiding has come out. I congratulate Sanjay Nirupam," Javadekar told a press conference in Delhi.
Congress claimed it had nothing to do with the publication nor had it appointed Nirupam as the magazine's editor.
"We have nothing to do with this publication. It was a defunct magazine that was trying to revive. That is not our mouthpiece. We have nothing to do with this publication. This magazine has not been associated with Congress," party spokesman Tom Vadakkan told reporters in Delhi.
Vadakkan said Congress had appointed Nirupam as MRCC chief and not the editor of any magazine and also distanced the party from the sacking the magazine editor.
"What does he do in his personal capacity is his responsibility. In his personal capacity, he can be editor of any magazine and decide to keep or sack any employee. The party has nothing to do with it," he said.
In Delhi, Congress leaders Salman Khurshid and Raj Babbar said that the issue should be seriously looked into.
Notwithstanding Congress's claim of having nothing to do with the publication, BJP secretary Shrikant Sharma questioned the sacking of the magazine's content editor Sudhir Joshi, saying it showed the party's "intolerance against truth" as most of what had appeared was a "matter of fact".
Javadekar quoted from the write-up, which criticized Nehru's Kashmir and China policies, while lavishing praise on Patel, as he sought to further embarrass Congress.
"Congress mouthpiece would never write about Patel. And now when it has written, it has written only truth," he said, claiming that leaders outside Nehru-Gandhi family like PV Narasimha Rao, Lal Bahadur Shastri besides Patel never got "justice" from it, a party of "one family".