The Nehru Memorial Museum and Library executive council accepted its director Mahesh Rangarajan’s resignation on Thursday, giving the Modi government a free hand to appoint its nominee to the post.
Rangarajan had been under attack from the Modi government that questioned the legality of his last-minute appointment in May last year. Rangarajan could have continued as NMML director for nearly nine more years or until he turned 60.
“Mahesh Rangarajan had tendered his resignation on Wednesday which has been accepted by the chairman of the executive council Lokesh Chandra. It is not my personal choice whether he should resign or he should not resign. He has (offered) to resign for the second time,” culture minister Mahesh Sharma said.
Sharma had dubbed the appointment “unethical” on the grounds that it was made on May 14 last year, a gazetted holiday, two days after the Election Commission advised the UPA government to defer its proposal until the election process was over.
The controversy over Rangarajan’s appointment came against the backdrop of a government plan to recast Nehru Memorial as a museum to exhibit aspects of governance in contemporary India. Sharma added a culture ministry official may be asked to hold additional charge as director. Rangarajan had offered to step down on Monday at an executive council meeting, citing personal reasons but the proposal was turned down. He sent his resignation to the council again on Wednesday.
Sharma said the culture ministry will start the process of appointing a new director for the museum. The government insists it raised questions about Rangarajan’s appointment only after the Congress accused the ruling alliance of saffronising NMML.
Sharma denied his ministry put pressure on Rangarajan to resign and stuck to his stand that norms were “thrown to the winds” by the UPA government in the permanent absorption of Rangarajan for the post. “We got the information on the irregularities in his appointment from an anonymous person three months ago,” he said.
Rangarajan, however, could not be contacted.