MUMBAI: Left hugely embarrassed by articles in a party mouthpiece that were critical of Jawaharlal Nehru and Sonia Gandhi, Mumbai Congress today said their publication and leak to media could be the "handiwork" of "saboteurs" within the city unit.
"Yes, the party leadership has been briefed about the suspicion that the inclusion and leakage of the articles which cast Nehru and Sonia in poor light may have been the handiwork of saboteurs and disgruntled elements within the Mumbai unit," Mumbai Regional Congress Committee (MRCC) sources said.
A senior AICC leader said the issue is being treated as closed by the party's central leadership after it was satisfied with the explanation put forth by the Mumbai unit, the source told PTI.
Asked if any internal inquiry has been initiated to determine how such a faux pas happened, the source said, "The editorial content coordinator has been sacked and the matter has ended there."
However, state party spokesman Anant Gadgil said the publication of the article on Nehru appeared to be part of a "deliberate campaign by certain elements" in Indian politics to "propagate" that the relationship between Nehru and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel had been antogonistic.
"It looks a deliberate campaign by certain elements in Indian politics to create a picture that there was a dispute between Nehru and Patel," Gadgil told reporters in Pune.
The publication of the articles ahead of Congress' 131st foundation day caused a major embarrassment for the party as they questioned Nehru's policy on Kashmir and China and claimed that Sonia Gandhi's father was a 'fascist soldier'.
MRCC chief Sanjay Nirupam, who is also the editor of Congress Darshan, had yesterday apologised for what he described as an "irreparable mistake".
Sources close to Nirupam said his rivals leaked the contents of the in-house magazine to the media to target him.
Nirupam has already sacked the publication's editorial content coordinator Sudhir Joshi, a freelance journalist.
'Congress Darshan' was launched during the tenure of Kripashankar Singh as Mumbai party chief from 2007-2011 to sensitise partymen about the party's policies and rich legacy.
The journal was discontinued four years ago before being revived by Nirupam, a former journalist himself, this year.
"I decided to revive the Hindi edition two months ago. The first issue was brought out in November," said Nirupam.
"Earlier, we thought of translating the content published in the Marathi edition but Joshi expressed an interest in contributing independent articles," Nirupam said,
The editorial board of the journal would be revamped, Nirupam said, adding, he would now personally monitor the content.
One of the articles, a tribute to the country's first home minister Sardar Vallabbhai Patel, had references to the "strained" relations between him and Nehru.
The article cited a letter Patel had purportedly written in 1950 to caution Nehru against China's policy towards Tibet wherein he had described China as "unfaithful and a future enemy of India".
"Had Patel been heard (by Nehru) then, the problems of Kashmir, China, Tibet and Nepal wouldn't have existed now. Patel opposed Nehru's move of taking the Kashmir issue to the UNO," the article went on to say.
Referring to the write-up, Gadgil said certain elements in Indian politics had often sought to portray the relations between Nehru and Patel as strained.
Gadgil said attempts had been made in the past too to portray the relations between Nehru and Patel as strained over renovation of the Somnath temple in Gujarat.
"It was Congress stalwart Kakasaheb Gadgil and Patel who had proposed renovation of the temple in response to the public sentiments as it was in a bad shape. But some elements generated a controversy by creating a wrong impression that Nehru was opposed to it," he said.