New Delhi: Thirty-one years is a long time. But not long enough to forget what happened to Prof. Pradeep Krishnatray at the hands of the Congress.

Many professors from Delhi University, JNU, Jamia Milia Islamia among others wrote to the Prime Minister objecting to his comment on former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. Around two hundred of them not only accused PM Modi of 'lowering the dignity of the office of Prime Minister' but hailed 'Rajivji' for his ‘policies and actions’. While the Congress’s overseas affairs in charge Sam Pitroda was quick to use it, the professors seem to have forgotten what happened to one of their own in 1988 when the Bofors scandal broke out.

What is the letter all about?

The 200 odd professors, both old and new, registered their protest on PM Modi calling Rajiv Gandhi' Bhrastachari no 1' (Corrupt No 1). He was referring to the former PM's alleged role in the Bofors scam that shook the nation in the 1980s. 

The professors also claim that the Indian Army "shouted slogans praising Rajiv Gandhi for the Bofors gun". However, no such evidence is available. The letter of protest is also made to heap praise on Rajiv Gandhi. The letter reads, if our IT companies earn, each year, billions of dollars in foreign revenue it is because of the farsighted wisdom of Rajivji."

The very first signatory of the letter is Aditya Narayan Mishra, a former Delhi University Teachers Association (DUTA) president. Mishra became a member of the Congress party’s Vichar Vibhag (Ideology cell).


Revisiting Sagar University of 1988

Soon after the Bofors scandal was broken in April 1987, a journalism professor was assaulted by Congress cadres. He was also arrested. His crime? Pradeep Krishnatray of Sagar University, in the question paper of an entrance exam, had asked, "Which station of All India Radio had broadcast the sentence – 'Rajiv Gandhi Chor Hai'?" 

To put things in context, on May 27 that year Patna Radio asked a listener to cite a 'chutkula' (joke) when she said, "Gali Gali Mein Shor Hai, Rajiv Gandhi Chor Hai" (The streets are abuzz, that Rajiv Gandhi is a thief). It was a slogan popularised by the then opposition in the wake of the Bofors controversy involving alleged kickbacks in buying the Bofors guns for the Indian Army.

What followed next was unprecedented. Not only was he assaulted, but his face was also blackened by cadres of Congress's youth wing. A professor who asked a topical question for journalism students was left with no dignity, in the premises of his own college. His trauma didn't end there. The college also ordered a probe under pressure from the Congress even as the police arrested him.

Thirty-one years later, a herd of professors from the capital project 'Rajivji' as a statesman with 'farsight' and 'wisdom' and Narendra Modi as someone who "stooped to this level". They either seem to be unaware or worse indifferent to how someone from their fraternity was treated three decades ago. Whether PM Modi could have avoided making that statement in the current election season is debatable, but what is beyond the debate is that these 200 odd Delhi professors failed Pradeep Krishnatray.