Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in a letter written in strong words to PM Narendra Modi urged the latter to leave the Jawahar Lal Nehru Memorial ‘undisturbed’ out of reverence for heritage and history. Dr Singh in the letter wrote, “Jawaharlal Nehru belongs not just to the Congress but to the entire nation”.
The former prime minister’s letter sparked off a fresh controversy over the plans of the government to have a museum for all the prime ministers in the Teen Murti complex, which has the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML).
Recalling Atal Bihari Vajpayee who passed away on 16th August, Dr Singh wrote, that during the tenancy of the stalwart from BJP, “there was absolutely no attempt made to change the nature and character of NMML and Teen Murti complex in any way. But sadly, that seems to be part of the agenda of the government now.”
Dr Manmohan Singh also stated, that the NMML is “dedicated to the memory of India’s first Prime Minister and the prime architect of the Indian nation-state, who left behind an indelible imprint on our country and indeed on the world.” He further wrote, “His distinctiveness and greatness have been acknowledged even by his opponents and rivals”.
Dr. Singh quoted the speech made by Vajpayee in the Parliament on the event of Nehru’s death: “As Atal Bihari Vajpayeeji himself said in his moving speech to Parliament when Panditji 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’.”
The former prime minister appealed to PM Modi, to “respect this sentiment”.
Dr. Singh said, that the museum must hold back its primary focus on Nehru and the freedom of struggle because of his “unique role having spent almost ten years in jail between the early 1920s and mid-1940s. “No amount of revisionism can obliterate that role and his contributions,” he wrote.
Replying to the letter, director of NMML, Shakti Sinha wrote, “It is not clear how exhibiting photos, speeches of other Prime Ministers would affect Nehru’s legacy.”
Mr Sinha who took charge as the director of NMML after Professor Mahesh Rangarajan tendered in his resignation in the year 2016, said, “What NMML has decided to do is to increase its ambit and make it a centre for information and research on Prime Ministers. NMML is a national institute focusing on contemporary India. NMML is already much more than Nehru”. Mr Sinha was also the private secretary of the former Prime Minister Vajpayee and was part of the Prime Minister’s Officer during his tenure as well.