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Teen Murti row: Nehru’s legacy won’t be undermined, says official

Nehru belongs “not just to the Congress, but to the entire nation,” Singh had said in a letter to Modi on August 24.

india Updated: Aug 27, 2018 23:32 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Manmohan Singh,PM Modi,Nehru
In his letter addressed to the PM, Manmohan Singh said during the six-year tenure of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who died on August 16, “there was absolutely no attempt made to change the nature and character of the NMML and the Teen Murti complex in any way”. (PTI File Photo)

Days after former prime minister Manmohan Singh urged PM Narendra Modi not to “change the nature and character” of the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML) in New Delhi, the institution’s director said on Monday that the government’s proposed changes “will in no way undermine the legacy” of India’s first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

Nehru belongs “not just to the Congress, but to the entire nation,” Singh had said in a letter to Modi on August 24 after reports that the government planned a museum for all prime ministers in the Teen Murti complex, which was the Nehru’s home between 1947 and 1964, and where NMML is located.

Singh added that, during the six-year tenure of former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who died on August 16, “there was absolutely no attempt made to change the nature and character of the NMML and the Teen Murti complex in any way. But sadly, that seems to be part of the agenda of the Government of India now.”

Shakti Sinha, the director of NMML said he was yet to read Singh’s letter as he was not in India. “But what I have learnt is that he is concerned about Nehru’s legacy. I think he has some misunderstanding about the proposed Prime Ministers’ museum in the Teen Murti complex. The upcoming museum will no way undermine the legacy of Nehruji,” Sinha said.

“On the contrary, the Nehru Memorial Museum & Library is continuously working to enhance Nehruji’s legacy. We are improving the museum by making Nehruji’s work more thematic and theological,” he added.

Six members of the NMML society had opposed a museum for all prime ministers in the existing Teen Murti campus. But the idea was cleared by Union home minister Rajnath Singh, who presided over the meeting.

Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said on Monday that attempts are constantly being made to change the identity and character of institutions such as NMML.

“Dr Manmohan Singh is a person renowned for his sobriety and for using words of studied moderation. If at all, Dr Manmohan Singh can be accused of being too mild, too controlled and too moderate in the use of his words. I think the whole world has seen and the whole of India is seeing that by means direct and indirect -- much more by indirect and by stealth -- attempts are being made to change the integrity, character, identity and content of venerable institutions of this country of which certainly NMML is one. This is not limited to NMML and that is the tragedy,” he said.

The Bharatiya Janata Party’s Bhupender Yadav tweeted: “As per clause 3(i)(d) of the MOA, One of the objects for which “The #NehruMemorial Museum & Library society” was established, was - “To Acquire Maintain & Preserve papers of #Nationalist leaders of Modern India & Other #Eminent Indians who distinguished themselves in any field”.

Singh said in his letter that “no amount of revisionism” can “obliterate” Nehru’s role and his contributions. “As Atal Bihari Vajpayeeji himself said in his moving speech to Parliament when Panditji (Nehru) passed away: ‘Such a resident may never grace Teen Murti again. That vibrant personality, that attitude of taking even the Opposition along, that refined gentlemanliness, that greatness we may not again see in the near future. In spite of a difference of opinion we have nothing but respect for his great ideals, his integrity, his love for the country and his indomitable courage’.”

“Let us respect this sentiment and keep Teen Murti as a memorial to our first Prime Minister Pandit Nehru and leave the Teen Murti complex undisturbed as it is. This way we will be respecting both history and heritage,” Singh wrote.

First Published: Aug 27, 2018 22:10 IST