'Congress Darshan' Does Not Look Any Better Even After The Explanations

by Swarajya Staff - Dec 29, 2015 07:35 PM +05:30 IST
'Congress Darshan' Does Not Look Any Better Even After The Explanations

The explanations given for the fiasco make the matter seem even worse than before

The brouhaha over a critical article on Jawaharlal Nehru published in a party mouthpiece called Congress Darshan is actually looking worse for India’s oldest political party, now that detailed explanations have been given.

Among other things, the article said that Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel would have handled the Kashmir and Tibet issues better than Nehru, and that Sonia Gandhi’s father was on the side of the fascists during the Second World War. Moreover, she became party president barely 62 days after becoming a primary member of the party.

So far it is only the embarrassment caused to the party that has hit the headlines. But Sanjay Nirupam, the Mumbai Congress chief who took responsibility for the faux pas, made two other points that show the Congress in even poorer light.

The Economic Times quotes him as saying that the publication of the article “was a serious mistake by our editorial team” as “the article was lifted from the internet and…put in the magazine without verifying the content, which has led to the error.”

The content editor, one Sudhir Joshi, was sacked, but it was later discovered that he wasn’t even an employee and his name appeared nowhere in the publication’s editorial credits. Nirupam’s explanation for this: “Joshi was an employee” but he was not given an appointment letter “since we are not a limited company”.

These admissions show multiple ethical transgressions by the party’s mouthpiece.

First, an article is simply lifted from the internet (ie, plagiarised), as though content is free-to-use by the Congress party when it wants to. No respect is shown for copyright.

Second, a key content editor’s name does not figure in the publication’s masthead. The law says all publications must disclose who their editor is under the Press and Registration of Books Act.

Third, the content editor is “sacked” for transgressions, but he is appointed editor without any formal letter confirming this. This is even worse than employing casual labour. While legally this may not matter, what does it say about employment practices in the country’s oldest political party?

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