It’s no secret that the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party does not care for India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru.
Nehru has been piloried relentlessly by the Hindutva party for his secularism, socialist tilt and for the fact that his descendants went on to control the Congress party for decades. This controversy took another turn this week with the release of a new book titled VP Menon: The Unsung Architect of Modern India.
Menon was an advisor to the last British viceroy, Louis Mountbatten, and the author of the plan by which the British India was partitioned (the document is better know as the Third June plan or Mountbatten Plan). The new book has been written by his great-granddaughter Narayani Basu.
In Basu’s telling of events, Nehru has wanted to exclude senior Congress leader Vallabhbhai Patel from the first cabinet of independent India. Once Menon found out about this, he rushed to Mountbatten, who then intervened on Patel’s behalf. “In the first week of August, Nehru submitted his official list of the people he wanted to serve in independent India’s first Cabinet,” writes Basu. “The list should have been headed by Sardar Patel. It wasn’t.”
However, this claim was rebutted by historian Srinath Raghavan, who showed using documentary evidence, that Patel was not only part of the list — he headed it.
To this, Congressman Jairam Ramesh also tweeted out documents that backed up the evidence laid out by Raghavan.
Basu did not directly respond to Raghavan’s piece but did reply with a more broader point about how “Nehru and Patel didn’t always get along”.
The fact that the claim of Nehru’s list not having Patel’s name had been debunked did not, however, register with the Union External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar who made sure to mention and tweet it out while launching the book on Thursday.
Historian Ramachandra Guha pointed out that Basu’s claim of Patel not being there in the first list was false and had been debunked by Raghavan.
Rather than correct himself, Jaishankar chose to brazen it out. As is its established pattern, India’s ruling party is comfortable with pushing fake information if it feels that it would help it politically.
That a senior Union minister was trolling people on Twitter using factually incorrect information soon led to expected social media ribbing.
However, a number of users also commended Jaishankar for his social media trolling.