The yogi adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh has decided to spruce up the Parsi cemetery in Prayagraj’s Mumfordganj that has the grave of Feroze Jehangir Gandhi, grandfather of Congress chief Rahul Gandhi.
Confirming the move, minister Mohsin Raza, who paid a surprise visit to the grave on Monday, said, “I am UP’s minority affairs minister. Parsis too are a minority and hence this is part of our government’s ‘sabka saath, sabka-vikas policy’.”
Raza said he would soon write to Prayagraj mayor Abhilasha Gupta ‘Nandi’ on the issue.
Some BJP leaders admitted that the issue would be played up in public meetings in and around Prayagraj ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.
Before Raza’s visit, deputy chief minister Dinesh Sharma had urged the Congress chief to take time out to visit the tombstone of his grandfather. “He must pray that the soul of the forgotten Gandhi rests in peace,” Sharma had said.
“Rahulji remembers his maternal grandfather Jawaharlal Nehru all the time but never utters a word about his paternal grandfather. Why? His party described Rahulji as a ‘janeudhari brahmin’ (Brahmin with the sacred thread) but hides his Parsi lineage. Why has this grave been neglected,” Mohsin Raza asked after offering floral tributes at Feroze’s grave.
Rubbishing the BJP claim that Feroze Gandhi was neglected, Kishore Varshneya, 58, an old Congressman who lives close to the Parsi cemetery at Mumfordganj, said, “Each year in September, when Feroze ji’s birth and death anniversaries coincide, we visit and pray there.”
However Varshneya admitted that the graveyard that has about 40 to 50 Parsi graves lies neglected. “I must say that the neglect of this grave yard started after the Congress lost power in UP in 1989. Despite repeated reminders to the local administration, this graveyard has remained neglected.”
Congress leaders deny BJP’s charge of the party having forgotten Feroze.
“I think Soniaji, Rahulji and Priyankaji have all visited the grave but I want to know why is the BJP so interested in the family affairs of leaders of another party. We don’t humiliate our elders the way the BJP does, as was proved in the case of party veterans who were moved to ‘margdarshak mandal’,” said Congress leader Devendra Pratap Singh.