An official booklet of the Odisha government has described the death of MK Gandhi as an “accident” triggering a massive controversy in the state on Friday.
Reportedly, the two-page booklet titled “Aama Bapuji: Eka Jhalaka” (Our Bapuji: A Glimpse) was published on the occasion of 150th birth anniversary of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. The booklet presents a brief account of his teachings, works and links with Odisha. However, the booklet also states that MK Gandhi “died due to accidental reasons in a sudden sequence of events on January 30, 1948, at Delhi’s Birla House”.
In the wake of the furore, the Naveen Patnaik-led Odisha government has ordered a probe to determine the circumstances that led to its publication by the School and Mass Education department for distribution in state-run and state-aided schools.
The gaffe by the Odisha government has received flak from various political parties and activists, who demanded an apology from Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and sought immediate measures to correct the “blunder”.
The Congress on Friday went on to demand the resignation of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, stating that the state government tried to distort facts by terming MK Gandhi’s death an accident.
“Patnaik must take responsibility for the blunder, seek an apology and issue a directive to immediately withdraw the booklet,” the Congress Legislature Party leader said.
Senior Congress leader Narasingha Mishra accused the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) government of favouring Gandhi haters while adding that children have every right to know who killed Gandhi and the circumstances in which he was assassinated. “The death of the Father of the Nation has been put in a way that it pleases his haters,” he added.
CPI Odisha state secretary Asish Kanungo echoed similar sentiments and alleged that the move was part of a conspiracy hatched by the state to twist history and hide the truth about Gandhi. “Everyone knows that Nathuram Godse killed Gandhiji, following which he was apprehended, tried and sentenced to death. The children should be told the truth and the booklet immediately was withdrawn,” Kanungo stated.
Academician Prof Manoranjan Mohanty took strong objection to the incident and demanded immediate action against those responsible for misrepresenting facts in a government publication.
Mohanty claimed that Godse sympathizers must have influenced the writer and publisher and insisted that a revised booklet with accurate information should be redistributed among students.
Meanwhile, Samir Ranjan Dash, the state School and Mass Education Minister tried to do some damage control, while asserting that the “matter was being examined”. The government has taken the matter very seriously and action will be taken against those found responsible for the act, Dash added.