Maharashtra Legislative Council today witnessed an uproar 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Congress MLC Sanjay Dutt said the “defamatory reference” to the ex-PMs on the Emergency and the Bofors scam should be withdrawn.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 SC order but deliberate hiding of facts for political purposes,” Dutt said. He said attempts were being made to tarnish the image of the two political stalwarts who gave their lives for the nation. “The sections referring to the two leaders should be immediately removed and action taken against officials responsible,” the Congress leader said.
The Congress got a support from the party ally NCP with its MLC Sunil Tatkare heaping praises on the former premiers. “It was Rajiv Gandhi who led 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,” Tatkare said. He said the contribution of the Nehru-Gandhi family in building the foundation of the country and ensuring unity in diversity 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,” Tatkare said. The NCP leader further said that students should know about the “supreme sacrifices” made for the nation by both the prime ministers. Acknowledging the strong sentiments of the House over the issue, Education Minister Vinod Tawde said 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,” Tawde said. He said nowhere in the textbook Indira and Rajiv Gandhi are shown as being guilty of any wrongdoings, but only the sequence of events upto 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 they had no knowledge about the happenings in the independent India. Hence it was decided to include history of the post-independence period,” Tawde added.