Dehradun: Public memory may be short but social media is unforgiving; it has the uncanny knack of not letting bygones be bygones and will ferret out the most unpalatable controversy and give it a life of its own.
So, even as Pushkar Singh Dhami was painstakingly counting the agonizing minutes before the oath-taking as Uttarakhand’s chief minister on Sunday, an old tweet from 2015 has surfaced, causing him a modicum of social embarrassment.
The BJP leader had released a map of India a day before Independence Day in 2015, which was erroneous in many ways, but went unnoticed at the time. Many social media users have now pointed out that the image does not accurately depict India and does not account for foreign borders.
Dhami’s map of ‘Akhand Bharat’ – undivided India -- has neighbouring countries within its ambit, which is not surprising given the underlying Sangh philosophy. But, it strangely omits Ladakh and Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, which many in the saffron parivar would consider blasphemous.
The image of Bharat Mata is at the centre of the saffron map, which carries the caption “Akhand Bharat — the desire of every Rashtrabhakt".
Misrepresentation of the Indian map has always been a sticking point with the Centre – whatever the dispensation. But of late there is a zero tolerance for such transgressions and most recently, two police cases were filed against Twitter for carrying a distorted version of the Indiana map on its website. Last year, Twitter had depicted Leh as part of China.
Earlier in February, the government had called out the World Health Organisation or WHO over the "wrong depiction" of India's map on its website. The world's top health body later put out a disclaimer. In January, the British Broadcasting Corporation or BBC had apologised for the "mistaken use of an inaccurate map of India" and rectified it, media reports recounted.
Jawhar Sircar, a former IAS officer and former CEO of Prasar Bharati, waded into the controversy, tweeting a screenshot of the six-year-old tweet and writing, “Shouldn’t the BJP choose this man as India’s foreign minister rather than the chief minister of a small state like Uttarakhand? After that, we can all move on to the Third World War."
Several social media users defended the map and Dhami’s tweet, stating that Akhand Bharat is more of a cultural notion than a geographical one.
Predecessor Tirath Singh Rawat’s four-month stint as CM was also marked by controversies. Among the most notable was when he received flak after he criticised women for wearing ripped jeans.