All the Congress leaders who were members of the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML) Society and last year objected to the coming up of a new ‘Museum for Prime Ministers’, saying it sought to “obliterate Jawaharlal Nehru”, have been dropped from the reconstituted body.
In the absence of Jairam Ramesh, Karan Singh and Mallikarjun Kharge, the society will now don a rather saffron look with senior government functionaries like Prime Minister Narendra Modi, defence minister Rajnath Singh and home minister Amit Shah at the helm.
The NMML board has been reconstituted nearly six months before its term was to expire. The new members would have a term of five years. While the society is chaired by the prime minister, the induction of Singh and Shah is notable as both are first-time entrants.
Incidentally, last year, the Centre had inducted four new members into the society. The new members had replaced eminent personalities like academic Pratap Bhanu Mehta and economist Nitin Desai, who had strongly opposed the Centre’s move to set up a Museum for Prime Ministers within the Teen Murti premises.
Arnab Goswami dropped within a year of induction
Among those inducted then were television journalist and co-founder of Republic TV Arnab Goswami; former journalist and author Ram Bahadur Rai, who was in 2016 also appointed by the Modi government to head the 20-member board of the Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts; career diplomat and former foreign secretary of India, S. Jaishankar, who has now become the minister for external affairs; and BJP national vice-president and Rajya Sabha MP Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, who headed party’s think tank, Public Policy Research Centre.
This time around, the Centre has trimmed the total strength of the society from 34 to 28.
Several of the big names of the last society are absent this time, including Goswami, who was dropped even before he completed a year. Other members who have been dropped include former minister M.J. Akbar, who quit his post following allegations of sexual harassment; former army chief V.P. Mali; Infosys co-founder N.R. Narayanamurthy; historian Nayanjot Lahiri; economist Bibek Debroy; and space scientist K. Kasturirangan.
A number of other union ministers have also been inducted. They include finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, HRD minister Ramesh Pokhriyal, information and broadcasting minister Prakash Javadekar, minister of state for external affairs V. Muraleedharan, and culture minister Prahlad Patel.
As earlier, a number of people who have been close to the current dispensation have been awarded the membership. The new inductees include two well-known personalities – senior journalist and founder of India TV Rajat Sharma; adman, lyricist and chairperson of Central Board of Film Certification Prasoon Joshi; and journalist-turned-politician Swapan Dasgupta.
Author of book on Modi made member
Another notable presence in the society will be writer Kishore Makwana from Gujarat. He had authored the book Modi: Common Man’s PM in 2015.
Others who have been made members are policy researcher Anirban Ganguly, academics Kapil Kapoor and Kamlesh Joshipura, and researcher Rizwan Kadri. Member secretary of the Indira Gandhi National Centre of the Arts, Sachidannand Joshi, will be part of the society due to his position in IGNCA.
Apart from this, chairman of the Indian Council of Cultural Relations, Sahasrabudhe again finds a place in the society along with the president of IGNCA Ram Bahadur Rai; Prasar Bharti chairman A. Surya Prakash and chairman of NMML’s executive council Lokesh Chandra.
The Ministry of Culture’s secretary Raghvendra Singh, who replaced former private secretary to Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Shakti Sinha, as director of NMML this October, will continue to be in the society. And so too would secretaries of the department of expenditure in the ministries of finance and urban development ministry.
Congress will have only token presence
While the government has filled the society with a large number of ministers and bureaucrats, the Congress now retains only a token say as a representative of the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund will still find a place as an ex-officio member. The decision on who would represent the fund would be taken by party president Sonia Gandhi.