Sonia Gandhi refuses to make Nehru’s personal papers public

Jawaharlal Nehru

Congress chief Sonia Gandhi has refused to make public personal papers of India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

The Congress chief has refused hand over of Nehru’s papers to Nehru Memorial Museum and Library which could provide a glimpse into his relationships with his family members and others.

Meanwhile, the papers which are made available are only official documents including Nehru’s speech and other material from Independence till his death in May 1964.

It’s the Ministry of Culture and not Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) that will be in possession of Nehru papers.

Access to personal papers of former Defence Minister and one of the powerful man of India in 50s, Krishna Menon, requires PMO’s clearance. Menon had named Indira Gandhi as the custodian of his papers which was later passed on to the PMO.

Access to all other papers related to Charan Singh, GV Mavlankar, Devdas Gandhi and RN Kao need clearance of their family members.

Hundreds of letters Nehru wrote to his family members like father Motilal Nehru, mother Swaroop Rani, wife Kamala Nehru, daughter Indira, sisters Vijayalakshmi Pandit and Krishna Huteesingh and nieces Chandralekha, Nayantara and Rita will remain outside the domain of scholars and students who were looking forward to publication of personal papers.

The exchange of letters between Nehru and Padmaja Naidu, Indira Gandhi and Naidu, correspondence between Nehru and Edwina Mountbatten too fall in the same purview.

Nehru’s files at Padmaja’s house, Kamla Nehru’s correspondence with Syed Mahmud are also in the same category.

The entire matter of bringing Nehru’s official records in public domain was raised by historian Susan Dabney Pennybacker of University of North Carolina in June. He approached Nehru Memorial Museum & Library for access to post-1947 official papers of the former Prime Minister. Request regarding the same was sent to Sonia who is the legal heir to Nehru papers.

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