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Published in the 16-30 Jun 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

BJP distorted history to highlight Sonia’s “foreigner issue”

New Delhi: The BJP distorted history to highlight the foreign origin issue of Sonia Gandhi. The BJP propaganda has become a subject of scrutiny. Just one day before the last phase of general elections on 10 May, the BJP had brought out a poster in which it was stated that on the same day in 1857 Mangal Pande had fired the first shot of independence against foreigners. In this poster people were asked not to support a foreigner (without naming Sonia).

According to a famous historian, Government of India’s department of publications had issued a release wherein it was stated that Mangal Pandey had revolted against the Britishers on 29 March 1857 in Barrakpur, West Bengal. Historian and journalist, Ram Saran Joshi writes in his book that Mangal Pande, a soldier of 32nd regiment, had revolted against Britishers on 29 March 1857 at Barrakpur parade ground and he was hanged on 8 April, 32 days earlier than the date mentioned in the BJP’s election poster for his first act. The whole affair flies in the face of the model election code of conduct. Madhya Pradesh’s chief election commissioner, DS Mathur, has reported the episode to the Chief Election Commissioner’s office.

The poster said that supporting a foreigner meant insulting lakhs of martyrs. The same poster had asked people not to insult the sacrifices of lakhs of martyrs by supporting a foreigner on 10 May 2004.

All the posters and pamphlets of the BJP were reportedly issued from the Delhi residence of BJP leader Pramod Mahajan. «

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