While top politicians across party lines, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi, celebrated Rajiv Gandhi's 72nd birth anniversary at Vir Bhoomi in New Delhi on Saturday, the West Bengal unit of the Congress erred with a controversial tweet.
Even though the post was quickly deleted, the damage was done. The tweet was a quote by Rajiv Gandhi, uttered when his mother Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguard in October, 1984. "When a big tree falls, the earth shakes," Rajiv Gandhi said when he was asked about the riots that followed the assassination.
The anti-Sikh riots in Delhi, alleged to have been incited by several Congress leaders, resulted in the massacre of more than 2,000 Sikhs. Many Congress leaders accused of fomenting the riots are still under judicial scrutiny, with the current NDA government fuelling speculation that many dismissed cases against the accused will be reopened. Considering the controversial nature of the quote, it invited the ire of Congress leaders.
"He (West Bengal Congress party president Adhir Choudhury), as party president, is responsible directly for all communication. All party material and communication goes through him. How is it possible that a tweet like this, which rakes up 1984 can become public, unless its vetted by him. He has to take responsibility for this highly condemnable tweet," Manas Bhuiyan, a veteran Congress leader who has been feuding with Choudhury, was quoted as saying by the Indian Express.
"This is a case simply of inadequate research. It just goes to show that increasingly those who're associated with the party aren't aware of its history. It's regrettable and it just goes to show that politics today has become like social media – momentary, cut-copy-and-paste style statements without real understanding. It's nobody's fault, just a symptom of today's culture," an anonymous senior leader also added.
Tributes to Rajiv Gandhi
On Saturday, President Pranab Mukherjee, Vice President Hamid Ansari, former PM Manmohan Singh, Rahul Gandhi, and Congress leader Ajay Maken paid tribute to Rajiv Gandhi.
Congress party's Mumbai unit has planned to organise a human chain against global terrorism on the day. The party's city unit president Sanjay Nirupam said that around 10,000 people are likely to take part in the event.
Modi also remembered the former prime minister by tweeting, "Remembering former PM Rajiv Gandhi ji on his birth anniversary."'
Rajiv Gandhi was the prime minister of India from 1984 to 1989. He was assassinated in a suicide bomb attack at Sriperumbudur near Chennai on May 21, 1991.