In a scathing letter dated January 27, 2021, the press secretary to the President of India, Ajay Kumar Singh, brought up the “irresponsible” and “juvenile” behaviour of a section of journalists over the Subhash Chandra Bose portrait controversy.
The letter is addressed to to Aroon Purie, the chairman and editor-in-chief of the India Today Group.
On January 25, President Ram Nath Kovind was accused on social media of unveiling a portrait of Bengali actor Prosenjit Chatterjee instead of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.
Prosenjit had portrayed Netaji in the 2019 movie Gumnaami and people alleged that his still from the movie and not Netaji’s actual photograph which was unveiled by the President at the Rashtrapati Bhavan to commemorate the 125th birth anniversary of Netaji.
Politicians like Trinamool Congress Rajya Sabha MP Mahua Moitra and many mainstream media journalists like Rajdeep Sardesai jumped on the outrage bandwagon.
However, journalist Nistula Hebbar pointed out that the portrait unveiled by the President has been painted by painter Paresh Maity based on the original photograph of Netaji which was sourced from his Grand Niece Jayanti Bose Rakshit.
Netaji’s Grand Nephew Chandra Kumar Bose had also shared the same portrait of Netaji, which has been colourised in the Rashtrapati Bhavan. The actor Prosenjit Chatterjee as well as the Rashtrapati Bhavan also put the record straight.
In his letter, Singh says that the “journalists of the India Today group” didn’t bother to do even the basic fact-check, and “joined the ranks of those who were throwing wild accusations for political gains”.