Govt. subverting Nehru Museum’s character: Cong.

Congress says RSS and BJP are playing a diabolical game of rewriting and misappropriating India’s rich and proud heritage of struggle for Independence.— File Photo: V.V. Krishnan  

Even as the government plans to tweak the focus of the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML) to reflect its own work, and the country’s culture and knowledge that is “not restricted to one person’’, the archival material in its collection and the research facilitated by the institution shows that it has long ceased to be a Nehru-centric place as is being made out by the powers that be.

The NMML’s institutional collection of papers includes not just Congress documents but also those belonging to the All India Hindu Mahasabha, All India INA Committee, All India Muslim League, Goseva Sangh (Wardha), Janata Party and Janata Dal, Namboodiri Yogakshema Sabha, and revolutionary patriotic activities in the pre-partitioned Punjab.

Among the individual collection of papers are private papers of the founder of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, Keshav Baliram Hedgewar, and the second Sarsanghachalak M.S. Golwalkar. In fact, NMML officials pointed out, these two collections were acquired by the library in the late 1960s when Indira Gandhi was the Prime Minister.

Similarly, the long-running exhibition in the museum – housed inside the original Teen Murti House where Pandit Nehru lived as Prime Minister – includes pictures and panels on Sangh Parivar ideologue Vinayak Damodar Savarkar and also The Indian Sociologist founder Shyamji Krishna Varma whose ashes were brought back from Switzerland by the then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in 2003.

In the wake of the row over a media report that the NMML would now have a little less of Nehru, Union Minister of State for Culture Mahesh Sharma on Wednesday made it clear that Nehru’s memory would not be erased. “We just think that NMML should reflect the country’s culture and knowledge; and not be restricted to one person.’’ He also indicated that all the 39 autonomous institutions under the Culture Ministry would be used to showcase the Modi government’s work in addition to their original mandate.

Condemning the effort by the BJP government to “subvert and dilute the essential spirit and character of NMML’’, Congress media in-charge Randeep Surjewala said: “Devoid of any legacy that comprises the building of our nation, RSS and BJP are playing a diabolical game of rewriting and misappropriating our rich and proud heritage of struggle for Independence.’’

The NMML, as per the Memorandum of Association, is mandated with five tasks and maintenance of a museum of Nehru “personalia, memorabilia’’, and other objects pertaining to his life and the freedom movement is just one of them. The other tasks include acquiring, maintaining and preserving papers of nationalist leaders of modern India and other eminent Indians; establishing and maintaining a library on the history of modern India; and facilitating research in modern Indian history.

And, the Nehru Planetarium on the premises has always sought to showcase advances made by India’s space programme as it was originally championed by Nehru. So, if India’s successful Mars Orbiter Mission, Mangalyaan, last year was celebrated with a showcase, the planetarium had made a similar show in 1982 when Indian Air Force officer Squadron Leader Rakesh Sharma became the first Indian to travel to space.