Facing widespread criticism over an official booklet describing Mahatma Gandhi’s death as an “accident”, the Odisha government on Saturday said it was an inadvertent mistake and there was no intention to feed wrong information to the children or twist the sequence of events.
School and Mass Education Minister Samir Ranjan Dash came out with the government response to the controversy in the state Assembly following a direction from Speaker S N Patro in this regard on Friday.
Dash said the government has already withdrawn the booklet.
An official has been disengaged and two others have been asked to give explanation about the error, he added.
A two-page government booklet “Aama Bapuji: Eka Jhalaka” (Our Bapuji: A Glimpse) -- published on the occasion of 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi -- presented a brief account of his teachings, works and links with Odisha, while also stating that he “died due to accidental reasons in a sudden sequence of events on January 30, 1948 at Delhi’s Birla House”.
The matter triggered a row with political leaders and activists demanding an apology from Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and immediate measures to correct the “blunder”.
The issue had created hue and cry in the assembly on Friday. Members cutting across party lines had expressed concern over the misleading facts on the Father of the Nation.
“There is no intention to give wrong information and mislead the children or twist the sequence of events. It was (mistake) unintentional,” Dash said.
Necessary correction will be made in the booklet, it will be re-printed and circulated among the students within a month, the minister told the house.
Legislators of all the parties had on Friday felt sorry over the episode.Congress Legislature Party leader Narasingha Mishra had demanded an apology from the chief minister. The CLP leader also questioned the state government’s motive behind the “misleading” information.
“I doubt the motive behind this misleading information on Gandhiji is because of the changed relationship between the (ruling) BJD and BJP. A section of BJP leaders are worshiping Nathuram Godse, who had killed Gandhiji,” he had said in assembly on Friday.
“It appears that BJD has totally surrendered before BJP. Therefore this booklet could be part of the BJD-BJP secret alliance,” Mishra said.
The treasury bench members also condemned the misleading information on Gandhiji in the government booklet.
Sharing members concern, speaker directed the school and mass education minister to make a statement in the house Saturday.