Jawaharlal Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi
Jawaharlal Nehru (L) and Mahatma Gandhi (R) fought alongside each other for an independent India, free of British ruleCentral Press/Getty

In a controversial move, a new text book to be used in all high schools in the Indian state of Rajasthan has erased references to Jawaharlal Nehru. The former leader of the Congress Party and India's first prime minster, who fought alongside Mahatma Gandhi, does not feature in the book Social Science's chapters on the Freedom Movement or on India After Independence.

On 8 May the Indian Express reported that new textbooks for eighth-grade students in Rajasthan had erased mentions of Nehru. While Education Minister Vasudev Devnani said that Nehru's name was "still there on page 91 and 177", media outlets in India were quick to point out that this included only one line about him presenting the objectives resolution of the Indian constitution.

The move comes almost one month after Devnani announced that "major changes" would be made to Rajasthan's school curriculums to "inculcate the feeling of patriotism in students". Devnani made the announcement amid controversy at Jawaharlal Nehru University, where a student leader had been arrested on charges of sedition for allegedly chanting "anti-national slogans", sparking a nationwide debate about nationalism versus freedom of speech.

When Devnani was asked about Nehru's name being eliminated from chapters on India's freedom struggle under British rule, as well as the lack of mention on India's first prime minister, he told the Indian Express that it shouldn't matter what chapters Nehru was mentioned in, as long as he had been mentioned.

The move has angered India's opposition Congress Party, which has accused Narendra Modi's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of "rewriting history". Rajasthan's Congress Chief, Sachin Pilot, has said that his party will launch "an agitation" across the country and lashed out at the BJP and its close ally, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS).

According to the MailOnline, Pilot said: "It is a well thought out strategy, a clear agenda of the RSS-BJP to erase the contributions of Nehru and such tall leaders. It is their deliberate attempt to distort text books so that the young minds get a different taste of history which is not true. The RSS-BJP can tweak text books but cannot rewrite history and sideline the contributions of stalwarts like Nehru."