On Thursday, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharman and historian Ramchandra Guha were involved in a verbal duel on Twitter after Guha quoted British writer Phillip Spratt who had called Gujarat as 'culturally backward' in 1939.
Guha wrote, "Gujarat, though economically advanced, is culturally a backward province... Bengal in contrast is economically backward but culturally advanced."
The historian's tweet drew flak from all quarters including Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani, senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman tweeted an article titled "Poland organises event to honour former Jamnagar King, Maharaja Jam Saheb Digvijaysinhji Jadeja, who saved 1000 Polish children" and wrote, "In 1939, when Philip Spratt, from Britain, belonging to the Communist International wrote, (who @Ram_Guha quotes) this was what was happening in Gujarat: Jamnagar...Maharaja Jam Saheb Digvijaysinhji Jadeja...saved 1000 Polish children #Culture."
Reacting to Sitharaman's tweet, Guha said, "I thought it was only the Gujarat CM, but now it seems even the FM is obsessing about a humdrum historian's tweets." "The economy is surely in safe hands," he added.
Hitting back at the historian, the Finance Minister said, "The economy is very much in safe hands; worry not, Mr. Guha." "Taking cognisance of thoughts in current national discourse+responsibly doing my job aren’t mutually exclusive. Either way, an interest in history is a plus. Surely an intellectual such as yourself should know that," she further added.
Meanwhile, Guha's tweet also seems to have united the BJP and the Congress. Gujarat Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said that the country won't fall for such tricks. He wrote, "Earlier it was the British who tried to divide and rule. Now it is a group of elites who want to divide Indians. Indians won’t fall for such tricks. Gujarat is great, Bengal is great...India is united. Our cultural foundations are strong, our economic aspirations are high."
Senior Congress leader Ahmed Patel said the statement was "ill informed". He added, "From Kutch to Vapi & from Shyamlaji to Dwarka, Gujarat’s culture is built on striking diversity but united through indomitable entrepreneurial spirit. Every culture has it’s unique greatness, backwardness is our failure to understand this fact."