Leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury was left firefighting on Saturday when a tweet attributed to him on the occasion of Rajiv Gandhi’s death anniversary evoked painful memories of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.
Viral screenshots of Chowdhury’s purported tweet showed images of Rajiv Gandhi along with a quote that was attributed to the former prime minister after the assassination of his mother and then PM Indira Gandhi at the hands of her Sikh bodyguards on October 31, 1984.
In the aftermath of the anti-Sikh riots, in which prominent Congress leaders are accused, Rajiv Gandhi is reported to have said at a public gathering: “Jab bhi koi bada ped girta hai, toh dharti thodi hilti hai (Whenever a big tree falls, the earth shakes).” Over the years, the statement has been cited as the Congress’ justification for the riots that killed more than 2,000 in the national capital.
As the BJP and other parties took potshots at him and the Congress, Chowdhury claimed the tweet had “nothing to do with my own observation” despite having first posted and then deleted the tweet from his official handle. He denied that he used the phrase “when a big tree falls, the ground shakes” along a photograph of Rajiv Gandhi on Twitter and claimed his account was hacked as he was delivering a speech at a party office in West Bengal’s Murshidabad district when the social media post was made.
“A malicious campaign is propagated by those forces inimical to me,” Chowdhury said.
The tweet against my name in the tweeter account has nothing to do with my own observation.
— Adhir Chowdhury (@adhirrcinc) May 21, 2022
Taking a jibe at the Congress, BJP leader Amit Malviya said Chowdhury had decided to “call a spade a spade”.
Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury has decided to call a spade a spade.
Gandhis be damned. pic.twitter.com/wnmv8cgIti
— Amit Malviya (@amitmalviya) May 21, 2022
National Conference leader and former J&K chief minister Omar Abdullah said: “The Congress doesn’t need others to pull it down when it does such a good job scoring self-goals.”
What on earth did he think using this quote was going to do for his party or the memory of the leader he was paying tribute to? The Congress doesn’t need others to pull it down when it does such a good job scoring self-goals. pic.twitter.com/MjVsjfWLTa
— Omar Abdullah (@OmarAbdullah) May 21, 2022
While the Congress was yet to respond to the criticism of Chowdhury’s tweet, it adds to the grand old party’s kitty of troubles months after losing power in Punjab to the Aam Aadmi Party.
The party had last week also faced criticism for exempting the Gandhis from its ‘one family, one ticket’ rule, inviting dynasty politics jabs from the BJP and other parties.