Noted British sculptor Anish Kapoor who had unleashed a storm by commenting that India is being ruled by a “Hindu Taliban”, has been nominated to the governing body of a prestigious cultural centre in BJP-ruled Rajasthan.
Kapoor, 61, is among 12 people nominated to the general council of the Jawahar Kala Kendra, the hub of cultural activities in the capital, known as the Pink City for its historical buildings and monuments made of sandstone of the colour.
“The names have been cleared from the top, by the CMO (chief minister’s office),” the state art and culture minister Krishnendra Kaur ‘Deepa’ told HT when asked about the nominations.
The list of nominees was released by the government without much fanfare on November 16.
Raje, who led the party to a dominating victory in the 2013 assembly polls and then bagged all 25 seats in last year’s Lok Sabha elections, has shared a rocky relationship with the party’s central leadership.
Party sources also pointed out that Prime Minister Narendra Modi skipping the Resurgent Rajasthan business summit, which will begin on Thursday, was indicative of the growing distance between the two. Many top industrialists also opted out of the meet, taking the sheen off the high-profile summit.
The summit is one of Raje’s pet projects aimed at showcasing the state as an attractive business destination.
No one in the CMO was available for comment with junior officials saying that all were busy with Resurgent Rajasthan summit.
Delhi-based artist Pooja Sood, who is director general of JKK, told HT, “The panel of names is nominated by the government. We do not have any role in selecting the nominees. However, the council has not yet been formed. We have to still get concurrence from the nominees.”
About the absence of Rajasthani artists among the nominees, Sood said another list would be out soon. “This is just the first list where we tried to get some eminent names. The second list will have local names.”
The general council of JKK, to be formed after 23 years, has a minimum 12 and maximum 30 members.
Other nominees on the council include prominent names like educationist Homi K Bhabha, Infosys founder Narayan Murty’s writer-son Rohan Murty and Booker nominee Jeet Thayal.
During Modi’s recent visit to London, Kapoor in an opinion piece in the British daily The Guardian had rued the alleged erosion of democracy and the rise of a Hindu version of the Taliban who he said were targeting minorities, outsiders and dissenters.
“Modi’s regime has effectively tolerated – if not encouraged – a saffron-clad army of Hindu activists who monitor and violently discipline those suspected of eating beef, disobeying caste rules or betraying the ‘Hindu nation’,” Kapoor wrote.
Pointing to instances of human rights violations in India, Kapoor also called upon British prime minister David Cameron to urge Modi to answer for the Indian government’s “abysmal” rights record and to not make any business deals with India at the cost of human rights.
Originally from Mumbai, Kapoor has been living in Britain since the 1970s.
Earlier this year, one of his installations displayed at the Palace of Versailles in Paris, officially title the Dirty Corner but nicknamed the Queen’s Vagina by the media was vandalised with racist graffiti.