(Kuradi Chandrasekhara Kalkura)
Amid severe criticism from the Congress leaders, foundation stone for the ‘MUSEUM OF PRIME MINISTERS’ was laid on Monday, Octber 16, 2018 by the Union Culture Minister, Mahesh Sharma and Minister of State for Housing and Urban Affairs, Hardeep Singh Puri at the Teen Murti Estate, New Delhi. Much can be said on both sides. The Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML) is located in Teen Murti Bhavan, the official residence of the first Prime Minister of India, for all the period he was in the Office. Though named after Nehru, it is one of the best research centers on the history of the country, on the later part of the 19th Century and first eight decades of 20th Century. Scholars form across the Globe throng three. Nehru was the first Lieutenant of Gandhiji in freedom movement. He was the centre figure of Indian politics and democracy in post Independent India till his death on 27th, May,1964. The NMML may be possessing more informations about Nehru, than in any other library, Yet it is not exclusively on Nehru.
In fact Nehru’s life was a major portion of Contemporary History. The Museum contains thousands of pages of manuscripts and photographs of many great leaders such as Gandhi, Rajaji, Babu Rajendra Prasad, Sardar Patel, B.C.Roy, Jayaprakash Narayan, Sarojini Naidu, Rajkumari Amrut Kaur, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, etc. There are original documents pertaining to the Framing of Indian Constitution. That is a glorious institution; much more than what to be counted, measured and weighed in bricks, length and width, mortar and steel.
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has rightly said: “I recall that during the six years of tenure of Atal Bihari
Vajpayiji as Prime Minister, there was absolutely no attempt to change the nature and character of the Teen Murt Complex in any way. But sadly it seems to be the part of agenda of the Government of India now.” There were many non Congress Prime Ministers; Morarji Desai, Chaan Singh, V.P.Singh, Chandrasekhar, Deve Gowda, Gujral and Vajpayi. Most of them were victims of Emergency and bitter critics of Indira Gandhi’s style of functioning. None of them belittled the personality of Nehru. A consistent vilification campaign, on all fronts is carried on against Nehru by the present Central Govt and the party in power. It is bordering on character assassination.
Being part of the agenda to downgrade Nehru, the decision to change the name of the N.M.M.L as “Prime Ministers’ Museum”, though welcome, is unilateral. It is this background, that attracted criticism. The Government could have taken the opposition, though weak, into confidence before proceeding with its scheme, a major decision to change the character of the Institution. Adding insult to injury the foundation stone was laid by the ministers. It amounts to abusing the institution of Prime Minister. Indira Gandhi said: “Indira is of no consequences. But the institution of Prime Minister is all in all for the country.” In all humility the P.M. Modi, himself should have taken the credit.
The University Grants Commission has prescribed 25 acres of land to start a University. Teen Murti Estate is 30 acres in extent. The Central Govt wants to establish a centre for all the Prime Ministers of the Country. So it may well plan, in consultation with other parties, more so to strive to arrive at a consensus to start an Indian Prime Ministerial University. It can appoint a committee of unbiased academicians to establish a unique academic institution of excellence.
In his life time itself, Nehru was opposed and criticized; without hatred and jealousy. Two comrades of Nehru who applied the choicest vituperative language to blame him were C.Rajagopalachari @ Rajajii and Rammanohar Lohia. At the same time the highest tributes were also paid by them only. “Eleven years younger than me, eleven times more important for the nation, and eleven hundred times more beloved of the nation…” Rajaji wrote in Swarajya when Jawaharlal Nehru died in 1964. Rammanohar Lohia, a protégé of Nehru, 20 years younger to him, on the floor of the Lok Sabha, on December 6, 1963 questioned Nehru’s “security expenditure of Rs.25,000 per day and Rs.300/- for his dog” said in the condolence message: “What India lost: Nehru’s Respect for Parliamentary Methods and Deference to Opposition Views…”
All these and more precious materials, worth knowing by the Nation and the future Prime Ministers are available in the Museum.