The Centre has appointed journalist Arnab Goswami, former Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar, Bharatiya Janata Party MP Vinay Sahasrabuddhe and Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts chairman Ram Bahadur Rai as members of Nehru Memorial Museum and Library Society, replacing four members who had opposed the move to build a museum for all prime ministers at the Teen Murti Estate.
Former Union Minister MJ Akbar, who resigned from the Cabinet on October 17 in the wake of allegations of sexual harassment levelled by several women journalists, however, continues to be the vice chairman of the NMML executive council.
According to a notification on October 29, the culture ministry replaced economist Nitin Desai, professor Udayan Mishra and former bureaucrat BP Singh. Another member Pratap Bhanu Mehta had resigned in 2016 over the appointment of Shakti Sinha as NMML director.
The newly appointed members will serve until April 25, 2020, the order said.
Pratap Bhanu Mehta, BP Singh and Udayan Mishra, who have been replaced, had openly spoken against the decision to set up the museum for PMs at the complex, sources said.
“Their tenures have not ended. They have been replaced,” NMML director Shakti Sinha said on the development.
Asked about the reason behind the appointments, Sinha said they will help meet the goal to develop NMML into a centre of research as envisioned by the present government.
“This is part of a bigger plan to make NMML a centre of research. Ram Bahadur Rai has been commenting on the Indian political scene for the last 50 years. He personally knew some of the PMs,” Sinha said
“Jaishankar will bring us an insight into how decisions are made at the top and Goswami, as a senior journalist and a scholar in his earlier days, will also contribute immensely to our plans of creating a database of research and information on Indian political history,” said Sinha.
Sahasrabuddhe, who is president of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, took to Twitter to thank the prime minister and hit out at those opposing the proposed museum for all prime ministers.
“It’s an honour to be on the board of Nehru Memorial Museum n Library!Many thanks PM @narendramodi ji, @dr_maheshsharma ji!Expectedly,those talking about Inclusive Democracy are opposing conversion of NMML into all-PM Museum with Pt Nehru Memorial intact!”, tweeted Sahasrabuddhe, who is president of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations.
The ‘bhoomi poojan’ (foundation stone laying ceremony) for the museum was conducted by Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma on October 15 this year.
The NMML is also embroiled in a controversy over an eviction notice sent in September by the Directorate of Estates of the Union ministry of urban development to the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund.
Established in 1964, the Fund has been located at Teen Murti, once the residence of India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, since 1967.
On November 1, however, the Delhi high court stayed the eviction notice.