The Congress was hugely upset today, with its leaders pointing out that no senior minister was present at the traditional function in parliament to mark the birth anniversary of Jawaharlal Nehru. Even Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla and Rajya Sabha chairman Venkaiah Naidu had skipped the function, the party said.
November 14 is the birth anniversary of the nation's first Prime Minister and floral tributes are paid to his portrait in the Central Hall of Parliament every year.
Congress's chief whip in Rajya Sabha Jairam Ramesh tweeted: "Extraordinary scene today in Parliament at the traditional function to mark the birth anniversary of those whose portraits adorn the Central Hall. Speaker Lok Sabha absent. Chairman Rajya Sabha absent. Not a single Minister present. Can it get more atrocious than this?!"
Extraordinary scene today in Parliament at the traditional function to mark the birth anniversary of those whose portraits adorn the Central Hall. Speaker Lok Sabha absent. Chairman Rajya Sabha absent. Not a single Minister present. Can it get more atrocious than this?!— Jairam Ramesh (@Jairam_Ramesh) November 14, 2021
Other opposition leaders too condemned the move.
"Nothing surprises me anymore. This dispensation is destroying India's great institutions, including Parliament one day at a time," tweeted senior Trinamool Congress leader Derek O'Brien.
The function at the Central Hall this morning was attended by the Minister of State in the Ministry of Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises, Bhanu Pratap Singh Verma. Besides, Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Mallikarjun Kharge, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and other members of parliament were present.
The portrait of Jawaharlal Nehru was unveiled by then President of India, Dr S Radhakrishnan, in the Central Hall of Parliament House on 5 May, 1966.
The Congress had earlier called out the government after the photograph of Nehru was missing from the posters made for the huge Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav" – the huge celebrations planned for the 75th anniversary of Independence Day.
Calling the move "atrocious", Mr Ramesh had tweeted: "Not surprising from this regime and its toadies masquerading as scholars but atrocious nevertheless."
Party spokesperson Gaurav Gogoi said no country removes the first prime minister from a website about the freedom struggle and said the move was was "petty" and an "injustice". Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said the Indian Council of Historical Research or ICHR -- had "disgraced" itself.
An autonomous body under the Ministry of Education, the ICHR has been running a series of lectures and seminars on Independence struggle under the "Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav" celebration.
Calling the controversy "unnecessary", the ICHR had said that the poster in questions was just one of many released as part of the celebrations, "There will be several others and Nehru will be featured in them," it had added.