RV to continue on IGNCA Board

NEW DELHI, JULY 20. The former President, Mr. R. Venkataraman is reported to have agreed to continue as a trustee of the Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts (IGNCA) following some ``heavy'' persuasion by the IGNCA president, Mr. L.M. Singhvi, and the Union Minister for Culture, Mr. Ananth Kumar. Signalling his ``return'', he attended an exhibition of paintings organised by the IGNCA here on Wednesday - its first public event under the new dispensation. Last month, Mr. Venkataraman had not only declined the offer of IGNCA presidentship but also indicated that he did not want to continue as a trustee because of his age and indifferent health. Mr. Singhvi was then picked up to head the controversial arts centre.

Mr. Venkataraman did not attend the first meeting of the new IGNCA Trust held here on June 21. It was at this meeting, attended by barely half the members of the Trust, that Mr. Singhvi was ``unanimously'' elected president to succeed Ms. Sonia Gandhi. A one-time life president, she was removed when the Vajpayee Government reconstituted the IGNCA Board of Trustees earlier this year amid charges that it was as much an attempt to settle political scores with the Congress(I) as a part of the BJP's plan to take over key cultural institutions.

After the June 21 meeting, both Mr. Singhvi and Mr. Ananth Kumar had sought to play down Mr. Venkataraman's reluctance to continue with the Trust and insisted that his letter, expressing his desire to step down, did not amount to resignation. They were confident that they would be able to ``persuade'' him.

The Vajpayee Government started counting Mr. Venkataraman as a friend after he resigned from the ``old'' Sonia-led Board of Trustees in protest against amendments to the IGNCA's constitution that made Ms. Gandhi as the life president and created a category of life trustees. He was retained in the reconstituted Board and offered its presidentship which, of course, he declined.