The Congress and the BJP are on the warpath again over former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, this time over whether Nehru had objected to former President Rajendra Prasad’s association with the Somnath temple.
BJP leader Sudhanshu Trivedi had claimed Nehru did not want Prasad to attend the inauguration of the temple in 1951.
The Congress refuted the allegation, and pointed to letters by Nehru to prove the country’s first Prime Minister did nothing of the sort that BJP leader Sudhanshu Trivedi alleged.
“Sudanshu Trivedi has apparently waved some letters on air – of Pandit Nehru on the Somnath Temple. These and many other letters of Nehru, including to then Home Minister Rajaji and President Rajendra Prasad, are all in the public domain and form part of Vol 16-I of the Second Series of the Selected Works of Jawaharlal Nehru available online at nehruselectedworks.com,” Congress leader Jairam Ramesh said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.
“Contrary to what Trivedi claims, these constitute no great revelation. Nehru was completely transparent and left behind written records – written by him personally. Here is some correspondence on the subject that Mr Trivedi did not exhibit,” Mr Ramesh said, attaching a few pages of the documents.
Sudanshu Trivedi has apparently waved some letters on air – of Pandit Nehru on the Somnath Temple. These and many other letters of Nehru, including to then Home Minister Rajaji and President Rajendra Prasad, are all in the public domain and form part of Vol 16-I of the Second… pic.twitter.com/jiL6wRzJCZ
— Jairam Ramesh (@Jairam_Ramesh) January 11, 2024
Mr Trivedi had alleged Nehru opposed the association of Prasad and some Congress leaders with the rebuilding and inauguration of the Somnath temple.
The comment came after Congress chief Mallikarjun Kharge and party colleagues Sonia Gandhi and Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury “respectfully declined” the invitation to attend the Ram temple’s consecration in Uttar Pradesh’s Ayodhya. The Congress has accused the BJP of making the consecration a “political project” for electoral gains.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other top BJP leaders will attend the Ram temple’s consecration on January 22.
In Nehru’s letter of March 11, 1951, shared by the Congress, the former Prime Minister told the then Home Minister C Rajagopalachari, “I wrote to him that while there was obviously no objection to his visiting this temple or any other temple or other place of worship normally, on this particular occasion the inauguration of the temple would have a certain significance and certain implications. Therefore, for my part, I would have preferred if he did not associate himself in this way.”
“As the President is also anxious to associate himself with this function, I do not know whether it is desirable for me to insist that he should not do so. I propose, therefore, subject to your advice, to tell him that he can exercise his own discretion in the matter, although, I still think that it would be better for him not to go there,” Nehru said in the letter.
On March 13, 1951, Nehru also wrote to Prasad on his visit to the Somnath temple, saying, “… If you feel that it will not be right for you to refuse the invitation, I would not like to press my point any further”.
Nehru wrote to Prasad again that his visit to Somnath temple is assuming “a certain political importance” and said that he was being asked questions about it in parliament, to which he replied saying the government has nothing to do with it.