Mumbai: Led by its Chief Nizamuddin Raeen, Mumbai Congress Minority Cell on Tuesday protested outside the Mumbai Congress office demanding from party president Sonia Gandhi to sack former union minister P. Chidambaram.
"Chidambaram's statement on banning of Salman Rushdie's infamous book by Rajiv Gandhi has been made at the behest of the BJP. It shows that Chidambaram is no more committed to the secular ideas of the Congress party", Nizamuddin Raeen said while talking to the media.
"The party president should immediately axe and sack such a person from the party", he said.
Chidambaram, who was Minister of State Home Affairs when the ban was imposed in October 1988, had said at the Times LitFest on Saturday that he had "no hesitation in saying that the ban on Salman Rushdie's book was wrong".
Chidambaram's statement had left the party divided with the party spokesperson saying that Rajiv Gandhi government did not ban the controversial book.
"The book was not banned in India during the Rajiv Gandhi government. The import was banned", Congress spokesperson P.L. Punia said.
"Import of that book was banned, not the book itself", he reiterated.
He said Penguin, the publisher of the book, had decided not to print the book in India after consultations with writer Khushwant Singh.
Senior party leader Kamal Nath described Chidambaram's remark as his personal opinion, but did not deny that the Rajiv Gandhi government had banned the book.
"That is Chidambaram's own views. His statement is not Congress party's official stand," he told reporters outside Parliament today.
Another Congress leader Rajeev Shukla echoed Kamal Nath's statement, saying, "Chidambaram had expressed his own views and I disagree with him. I think Rajiv Gandhi had taken a right decision by banning the book depending on the law and order situation then."
P. Chidambaram, a senior Congress leader and minister in every Congress government, is known in the party as 'turncoat' who deserted the party and criticised the top leadership in crucial time.