It seems as if the Congress is paying huge amounts of money to have its national icons criticised and heckled, with the party officially bringing out the fifth volume of its history where the politics of former prime minister Indira Gandhi has come in for sharp criticism.
The party had commissioned five volumes to commemorate its history as part of its celebrations of 125 years of existence and while the first four volumes were out, the fifth has landed the party in a storm with sources saying that the outright criticism of Indira Gandhi has been taken seriously by the Congress leadership.
The chief editor is Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee while much of the actual book is said to be the handiwork of Union minister Anand Sharma who was involved in the other volumes also.
He is the editorial board convenor and was asked to put together a coffee table publication on the Congress which was released at the Burari plenary session.
While there is an editorial board which is supposed to look at the contents and scrutinise the articles, a senior leader said that much of the work was outsourced to the publisher known to Anand Sharma.
In his forward, Pranab Mukherjee has written that the articles represent varying viewpoints and the Congress party does not subscribe to these viewpoints, but the period under review from 1964 to 1984 is open to debate as historians have their own perception on the situation.
So while Sudha Pai is critical of the role in Indira Gandhi in bringing about the decline of the Congress in Uttar Pradesh, Inder Malhotra has taken Indira Gandhi to task for the emergency, calling it "ugly" as well as detailing the role of Sanjay Gandhi, etc. while Bipin Chandra is equally harsh in his assessment and treatment of Indira Gandhi.
While the All India Congress Comiitee has officially distanced itself from the book with party spokesman Manish Tewari saying that the book carries two disclaimers and the party does not subscribe to the views of the writers, it is learnt that the top leadership is upset and has seen red at how and why such a volume has been brought out in the name of detailing the party's history for that period.
AICC treasurer Moti lal Vora, who pays the bills for such volumes which criticise the party's former prime ministers and top leaders, has not seen the book as the party has had no involvement in bringing out these publications.
The practice earlier was that the AICC used to bring out such publications with each word being reviewed with a fine toothcomb, but that practice has been dispensed with off late.