In the wake of an uproar over the absence of Jawaharlal Nehru’s image from a poster of ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav,’ the Indian Council of Historical Research (ICHR) said on Monday there was an “attempt to create a premature controversy”.
Stating the contribution of the first Prime Minister of India “cannot be underestimated or seen”, ICHR director Om Jee Upadhyay said only one of the seven-eight posters was out so far, and that had led to the controversy.
He added the ICHR had no “intention” to “diminish” Nehru’s contribution towards India’s independence, and “maybe” he would be seen in the “next poster soon”.
“Seven to eight posters were supposed to be scrolled, but now one poster is visible. Soon other posters (will be) ready and (become) part of the website,” he was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
Upadhyay said that Nehru’s name was mentioned 17 times in the NCERT book of modern India, and his images appeared multiple times as well.
Following the release of the poster, which is part of the ICHR’s series of lectures and seminars on the theme of ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’ celebrations, several opposition leaders, including Congress MP Shashi Tharoor and Shiv Sena leader Priyanka Chaturvedim have slammed the Centre over the issue.
Also Read | Oppn slams govt over absence of Nehru’s image on Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav posters
“It is not merely petty, but absolutely ahistorical to celebrate Azadi by omitting the pre-eminent voice of Indian freedom, Jawaharlal Nehru. One more occasion for ICHR to disgrace itself. This is becoming a habit,” Tharoor tweeted.
He also told ANI on Monday that any attempt to “rewrite history in [such] petty way” must be stopped. “It’s like making a movie poster without the hero. Nehru must be there. This poster should be withdrawn,” he was quoted as saying.
Another Congress MP Jairam Ramesh told news agency PTI the exclusion of Nehru’s image from the poster “goes against all facts and authentic history.” “We know PM (Narendra Modi) wants to obliterate Nehru’s legacy, but this is unconscionable. He must rise above his prejudices and tell ICHR to fix it,” he was quoted as saying.
Upadhyay said, “I cannot go to the side of any political commentary but as a research organisation of history, I am again telling you that there are many posters on the website of ICHR, which are to be scrolled and it will be difficult to identify which is the first poster and which (one is) the second because they will continue to scroll.”
He added the technical team of the organisation “could not put all the posters at the right time” and a controversy arose “after the very first poster which is not right.”
The poster included Mahatma Gandhi, BR Ambedkar, Sardar Patel, Netaji Subhas Bose, Rajendra Prasad, Madan Mohan Malaviya, Bhagat Singh, and Hindu Mahasabha founder Vinayak Damodar Savarkar as freedom fighters.