DIRECTOR OF the MP Sahitya Academy Devendra Deepak and deputy director of the Sindhi Academy Jhammu Chhugani have finally got an extension despite Commissioner Culture Pankaj Raag’s strong objections.
Both Devendra Deepak and Jhammu Chhugani were officially to have retired over a month ago, but continued on their posts anticipating extension.
Raag had objected to their extension on the ground that both Deepak and Chhugani were over 65, the age limit set by the executive council of the Sahitya Academy for the posts.
The Culture Minister overruled the objection, saying the Finance Department was yet to notify the decision about the age limit.
Accordingly, Culture Commissioner issued an order with the rider that, “Their (Deepak’s and Chhugani’s) services are extended for three years or any next order whichever comes first.”
The Culture Commissioner was particularly opposed to Deepak’s extension not just on the overage ground but also on poor performance.
“Deepak could not go beyond ‘Premchand Hone Ka Arth’ or ‘Muktibodh Hone Ka Arth’ in programmes conducted by the Sahitya Academy and standard of ‘Sakshatkar’, the literary magazine of the Academy, has also been very poor during his stint,” Pankaj Raag wrote in his remark over the Minister’s proposal to extend Deepak’s services by three years.
On Raag’s objection, the Culture Minister told Hindustan Times, “As far as noting and remarks are concerned, these are a common thing in Government’s functioning.” He denied having any rift with the Culture Commissioner on this or any other grounds.
When contacted, Pankaj Raag refused to comment on the issue. The row over extension is the latest manifestation of the cold war between Laxmikant Sharma and Pankaj Raag. Nearly a month-and-half ago, Culture Minister had proposed to replace Pankaj Raag with Rameshwar Mishra Pankaj as Secretary, Bharat Bhavan Trust.
Rameshwar Mishra is director, Vagarth, the literary wing of the Bharat Bhavan. The proposal is still pending with the Chief Minister. Earlier, Sharma and Raag had locked horns over honouring poet Ashok Vajpeyi with the State’s prestigious Kabir Samman. Eventually, Vajpeyi received the Samman in a function at Bharat Bhavan where the Minister was conspicuously absent.