Government

With Modi's Former Principal Secretary as Chair of NMML, BJP Control is Absolute

Prasar Bharati chairman A. Surya Prakash was appointed as the vice chairman of the eight-member executive council, which is the highest decision-making body of the institution.

New Delhi: Former principal secretary to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Nripendra Mishra, has been appointed chairman of the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, according to a report in the Economic Times.

Mishra, who resigned as the principal secretary to the PM last year, is former a UP cadre IAS officer and has been closely associated with the think tank Vivekananda International Foundation. As chairman of the NMML, Mishra replaces Lokesh Chandra, the former president of Indian Council for Cultural Relations.

Prasar Bharati chairman A. Surya Prakash has been appointed the vice chairman of NMML’s eight-member executive council, which is the highest decision-making body of the institution.

Prakash replaced M.J. Akbar, former Union minister of state for external affairs, who resigned from the government in 2018 after multiple allegations of sexual harassment were levelled against him. After his resignation, Akbar no longer held any official position at the NMML.

Other members of the executive council include Indian Council for Cultural Relations chairman Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, who is from the RSS, chairperson of the Indian Institute of Advanced Study Kapil Kapoor and the pro-BJP nominated Rajya Sabha member Swapan Dasgupta. The three members of the EC are already part of the NMML society.

The executive council comprises five nominated members and three officials from the ministry of culture and meets five to six times a year.

Also read: NMML Head Quits, First Casualty of ‘Culture Wars’ Between BJP, Congress

According to an order issued in November last year, Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the president of the NMML Society and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh its vice president.

In November last year, the Centre removed Congress leaders Mallikarjun Kharge, Jairam Ramesh and Karan Singh from the NMML society and inducted the following members: Union home minister Amit Shah,  Union ministers Nirmala Sitharaman, Ramesh Pokhriyal, Prakash Javadekar, V. Muraleedharan and Prahlad Singh Patel, TV journalist Rajat Sharma,  Censor board chief Prasoon Joshi,  Anirban Ganguly of the BJP-run Syama Prasad Research Mookerjee Foundation,  Indira Gandhi National Centre of Arts member secretary Sachchidanand Joshi, who is from the RSS, Indira Gandhi National Centre of Arts chief Ram Bahadur Rai, who is from the RSS, Gujarat-based writer Kishore Makwana, author of two books: Commonman Narendra Modi (2014) and Modi: Common Man’s PM (2015), Academic Kamlesh Joshipura who was president of the BJP unit in Rajkot, Gujarat; Ahmedabad-based historian Rizwan Kadri; and academic Makarand Paranjpe.

The committee was also cut down from 34 members to 28.. Barring Paranjpe, all members are from the RSS/BJP or are from Gujarat, or both.

The decision to reconstitute the EC comes at a time when the government plans to overhaul the museum and lay emphasis on a new “Museum for all PMs,” a project that the Congress has claimed undermines the legacy of Jawaharlal Nehru.

According to the report in ET, the concept and design for the new museum will likely be finalised on Monday, which is likely to be attended by a select group of the members of the NMML society.

With Mishra’s appointment, the reconstitution of both the NMML society as well as the NMML executive council, which takes important decisions pertaining to the museum associated with India’s first prime minister, is now complete and represents the exertion of total control over the organisation by the RSS and BJP.

The latest’s announcement prompted the senior journalist Vidya Subrahmaniam to note:

(With inputs from PTI)