Amid Congress opposition, NMML decides to go ahead with museum for all prime ministers

New Delhi, Hindustan Times | ByJeevan Prakash Sharma and Smriti Kak Ramachandran
Jul 26, 2018 09:43 PM IST

The new museum for Prime Ministers will be constructed within the precincts of the Teen Murti Estate where Nehru Memorial Museum and Library is located.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s keenness to construct a museum dedicated to the legacy of all former Prime Ministers, first expressed by him in 2016, was endorsed by a majority of the 21 members of the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML) at the 43rd annual general body meeting here on Thursday.

Children walk past a photograph of Jawaharlal Nehru at the Nehru Memorial Museum in Delhi.(HT file photo)
Children walk past a photograph of Jawaharlal Nehru at the Nehru Memorial Museum in Delhi.(HT file photo)

The new museum for Prime Ministers will be constructed within the precincts of the Teen Murti Estate where NMML is located, with the government assuring the members that the new structure will not undermine or dilute the legacy of independent India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. Thursday’s meeting was chaired by home minister Rajnath Singh.

“The management of NMML decided to develop the museum within the premises of the Teen Murti property that served as the official residence of the first Prime Minister, Jawahar Lal Nehru,” Shakti Sinha, director of NMML said.

According to an official familiar with the developments, members of the Congress Party, Dr Karan Singh, Jairam Ramesh and Mallikarjun Kharge, who were present at the meeting were “assured” that the new museum would not affect the existing Nehru museum by the government representatives who “asserted the government’s right to construct the new museum”.

The Congress leaders along with Nitin Desai, BP Singh and Nayanjot Lahiri objected to the proposal, this person added, asking not to be identified.

The new museum which will include memorabilia of PMs from Lal Bahadur Shastri onwards will come up on a plot of land within the Teen Murti estate.

“The home minister said the construction of a new museum for PMs is a separate project and the government wants it to be complete through consensus. He also said the ongoing renovation of the Nehru museum will not be affected by the new construction,” the official said.

The ministry of culture, represented by union minister Mahesh Sharma said R270 crore has been earmarked for the new building and that there is “no question of disturbing the existing museum .”

The Congress has been objecting to the new construction as it feels that the proposed project seeks to dilute Nehru’s legacy.

“MJ Akbar, the minister of state for external affairs, who was also present at the meeting, said it was not an either-or situation and that the creation of something new will not be at the expense of the existing museum; he also said that had Nehru been around, he would not have objected to the new museum,” the official said.

According to the official, the chairman of Prasar Bharati, Surya Prakash, said anybody who has no problem with diversity should not have a problem with a museum for the other PMs. He also said the estate is owned by the government and it’s been given to the NMML for maintenance.”

A second official, who was also present at the meeting, said the Congress leaders had expressed apprehension that NMML would not be able to handle the massive project would need to hire another agency to carry out the work.

“While Jairam Ramesh said the Congress leaders would need more time to read the concept note, Kharge said a new society could be given the task of handling the project. Later, Rajnath Singh said a detailed concept note should be circulated to all members within 30 days and their suggestions sought,” the second official added on condition of anonymity.

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