The Rajasthan government has dissolved the governing council of Jaipur’s cultural hub, Jawahar Kala Kendra, after first removing from it British-Indian sculptor Anish Kapoor, whose appointment had triggered a controversy after the list was made public Monday.
Kapoor, who was one of 12 members appointed to the council, had only last week written a bitter critique of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for a British newspaper coinciding with the PM’s visit there. The article titled ‘India is being ruled by a Hindu Taliban’ was published in The Guardian on November 12.
Apart from Kapoor, those on the panel included Jeet Thayil, Ranjeet Hoskote, Malvika Singh, Rohan Murty, Hari S Bhartiya, Vidya Dahejiya, Homi Bhabha, Rahul Mehrotra, Mukeeta Jhaveri, Cyrus Gazdar and Azad Shivdasani.
The state government decided to scrap the entire panel after the BJP central leadership expressed displeasure over the nomination of Kapoor and certain others, sources in the state unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party said.
While JKK Director General Pooja Sood was not available for comment, state culture and tourism minister Krishnendra Kaur earlier told reporters that the order regarding the nominees was issued by the Principal Secretary without proper consultation.
Built in 1991 and designed by famous architect Charles Correa, the JKK is an autonomous body under the state government.
Meanwhile, people nominated to the panel had no idea it had been scrapped.
Homi K Bhabha, Anne F Rothenberg Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University, who was a nominee, said, “I just received a note on email saying that I was nominated to this panel but I was extraordinarily busy and frankly I put it on the back burner. The question of whether I accepted it or not doesn’t arise as I hadn’t given it any thought and hadn’t responded to it. I haven’t been told that the panel has been scrapped. This is the first time I am hearing of it.”
Mumbai-based poet Ranjit Hoskote who had dispatched his acceptance letter on Thursday itself, said he too was unaware that the panel had been done away with. “I received the communication regarding my appointment to the Jawahar Kala Kendra panel on November 16. It was out of the blue and there was no discussion. I can only guess I was selected because of my association with Charles Correa and his work, as that is the common thread among all the artistes selected for the panel,” Hoskote said.
Another nominee, poet Jeet Thayil says he didn’t even know he was nominated, much less that the panel had been dissolved. “I have never heard of this panel and even if there is one, I have not been consulted,” said Thayil.