The NDA government reconstituted on Thursday the management of the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA), bringing in veteran Hindi journalist Ram Bahadur Rai as its head in place of Chinmaya Gharekhan, a former diplomat.
The move was criticised by the Congress as part of the government’s “divisive agenda”. The appointment of Rai, a former news editor of Hindi daily Jansatta, as president of the 20-member board of trustees of the IGNCA was announced by the culture ministry on Thursday.
Culture minister Mahesh Sharma termed the revamp of the IGNCA management as something “not done for the first time”. He said similar steps were taken in 2000, 2004 and 2007.
“You have to understand that it is a continuous process. Change is a continuous process. Government felt a new board should be constituted. As a part of that, this change has been brought,” Sharma said.
Sharma said the government hoped to “take forward, promote and preserve the country’s culture, heritage, art and literature in the wake of the ‘change’.”
He said the new IGNCA head was associated with the thoughts of Mahatma Gandhi and Jayaprakash Narayan besides being a noted journalist.
“People who have been selected are experts in their respective fields. During the tenure of the UPA a lot of political people were part of IGNCA, including Sonia Gandhi, which is not required. We have ensured more exerts are part of the management,” he said.
The Congress reacted sharply to the move, saying it was yet another step towards “undermining” institutions formed to preserve culture and art.
“We strongly criticise this development as they have done these things previously as well. This is the predetermined agenda of not only the government but its parent organisation RSS,” said Congress leader Anand Sharma said.
“This government’s agenda is divisive, diversionary, diabolic and it has mindset of confrontation. The PM talks of taking everyone along but his government has acted in a manner which has only created conflicts and divisions in the polity,” Sharma said.