The Vasundhara Raje government has withdrawn the nomination of noted British sculptor Anish Kapoor to a top cultural body after courting controversy by cosying up to a known critic of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Sources said the names of Kapoor as well as 11 other members nominated to the prestigious Jawahar Kala Kendra were dropped on Wednesday night following adverse reaction among the party top brass in Delhi.
Kapoor, 61, had recently created furore by commenting that India is being ruled by a “Hindu Taliban” who were allegedly targeting minorities, outsiders and dissenters. His comments were published in the British daily The Guardian during Modi’s recent visit to the UK.
PTI quoted the state art and culture minister Krishnendra Kaur ‘Deepa’ as saying that she was unaware of the nominations and the principal secretary of the department had issued the order without consultation.
“Nomination of all the 12 members has been cancelled last (Wednesday) night. I had no idea of the nomination earlier,” Kaur said on Thursday.
However, Kaur had told HT on Wednesday afternoon that “the names have been cleared from the top, by the CMO (chief minister’s office).”
Sources said the decision to withdraw the nomination was taken after Kaur spoke to chief minister Raje, who has shared a rocky relation with a section of the BJP leadership.
The Jawahar Kala Kendra is considered the hub of cultural activities in the state capital and often hosts programmes sponsored by the government.
The move also came just hours before Union finance minister Arun Jaitley inaugurated the Resurgent Rajasthan summit, a high-profile business conclave aimed at showcasing the state’s investment potential.
Party sources pointed out that Prime Minister Narendra Modi skipping the business summit, a pet project of Raje, was indicative of the growing distance between the two.
Raje had led the party to power in the 2013 assembly polls and then bagged all 25 seats in last year’s Lok Sabha elections.
Besides Kapoor, the nominees to the council included prominent names like educationist Homi K Bhabha, Infosys founder Narayan Murty’s writer-son Rohan Murty and Booker nominee Jeet Thayal.
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.
In his opinion piece, Kapoor had lamented the alleged erosion of democracy and the rise of a Hindu version of the Taliban in India.
“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.