Row as Jawaharlal Nehru dropped from museum’s name


JUNE 16, 2023

NEW DELHI: The Nehru Memorial Museum and Library Society, in a special meeting, decided to drop the reference to former PM Jawaharlal Nehru from its name and rechristen the institution as Prime Ministers Museum and Library Society. Though a natural corollary of an earlier decision to expand the purview of the museum to include all 13 PMs of India at the Pradhanmantri Sangrahalaya, the move triggered sharp criticism and allegations of vendetta politics from the Congress.

Heading the special meeting, defence minister Rajnath Singh, also the society’s vice-president, welcomed the proposal for the change in name since it exhibited, in its new form, the contributions of all PMs from Nehru to Narendra Modi and their responses to various challenges faced by them.

Singh described the office of prime minister as an institution and compared their journeys to the varied colours of a rainbow. “All colours of a rainbow must be proportionately represented in order to make it beautiful. Thus, the resolution has given a new name, respect to all our previous prime ministers and is democratic in content,” he said.

Singh said renaming NMML Society not only honoured BJP PMs but others, including those from Congress like Lal Bahadur Shastri, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, PV Narsimha Rao and Manmohan Singh.

“Prime ministers from different political parties have served the country. There can be ideological differences at the political level, but as PM Modi has said several times, our government believes that all PMs have contributed to the development of India. They all faced different challenges during their tenures and solved them in their own ways,” he said.

Singh said Shastri coined the slogan ‘Jai Jawan Jai Kisan’ that brought together India’s farmers and soldiers, while Indira Gandhi succeeded in splitting Pakistan in two by leading the country in the 1971 war. Rajiv Gandhi, he said, paved the way for making the country strong in the IT sector while Rao laid the foundation of India’s economic revolution through reforms.

Singh also recalled the tenures of Atal Bihari Vajpayee for making India a nuclear power, and Manmohan Singh for taking the country forward in the field of nuclear energy through the nuclear deal.

“Similarly, we can see the country progressing fast under PM Narendra Modi. Today, the pace of India’s economy is growing faster than many big economies in the world,” Singh said.

The NMML society, in a separate statement, said after the opening of the Pradhanmantri Sangrahalaya in April last year, the executive council “felt that the name of the institution should reflect the present activities, which now also include a Sangrahalaya depicting the collective journey of democracy in independent India and highlighting the contribution of each prime minister in nation-building”.

Speaking to TOI, vice chairman of the NMML executive council A Surya Prakash, said, “This is a very big step to reiterate our commitment to democracy and to acknowledge, honour and celebrate the diversity that we have seen in our national political leadership.

“If you saw Nehru Memorial Museum earlier and compare it to now, you will see that from being limited to a bunch of sepia print photographs and Nehru’s bedroom, the old building is now dedicated to showcasing the making of the Indian Constitution and to the things Jawaharlal Nehru did to contribute to building the temples of modern India. From reflecting the poverty of imagination that the ‘family’ suffered from, it now shows how the country is being, and ought to be, run.”

Courtesy/Source: TOI / PTI