The Museum of Prime Ministers in the Teen Murti complex will be completed in a year and cover the life and times of all Indian Prime Ministers, including Narendra Modi, Union Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma said on Monday.
The museum, close to the heritage building of the Nehru Memorial Museum, is being built by the Union government at a cost of Rs 271 crore.
“The Teen Murti Estate has a total area of 25.5 acre, of which the Nehru Memorial Museum building occupies a small area. It was decided to set up the museum in the remaining area of government land,” Sharma said.
On Monday, a “bhoomi poojan” was held at the site. Besides Sharma, Union Urban Development Minister Hardeep Puri, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML) director Shakti Sinha and NMML executive council member Swapan Dasgupta were present, among others.
READ | From UPA to NDA, changing colours of Nehru Memorial
Sinha said the upcoming museum will showcase the contribution of 14 Prime Ministers, including Modi. Asked who will be left out, as India has had 15 Prime Ministers so far, Sinha said, “No one will be left out. (Collections and works on Jawaharlal) Nehru will not move to the new building. He (Nehru’s collections) will stay where he is — in the current Nehru Memorial Museum, which was also his residence.”
Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had recently written to Modi and expressed concern over the government’s move to change the “nature and character” of NMML and urged him to leave the complex “undisturbed”. On this, minister Sharma said, “The letter has been responded to. In the past, if someone objected to the new museum, that’s because they were not aware of its true nature. Prime Ministers of India are not individuals — the office of the Prime Minister is an institution.”
He maintained that no part of the Nehru Memorial Museum will be touched during or after construction of the new museum, and added that there should be no controversy over ownership of the land since it “belongs to the government”.
Stating that at present there are memorials dedicated to only three PMs — Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastri and Indira Gandhi — Sharma said, “The museum will accommodate future PMs as well. These will not just display the watches and umbrellas of the 14 Prime Ministers — be it P V Narasimha Rao, Charan Singh or H D Deve Gowda, or caretaker PM Gulzarilal Nanda — but also encapsulate the messages of their lives.”
Congress leaders Mallikarjun Kharge and Jairam Ramesh, who are members of the NMML Society and had voiced strong objection to the construction of the museum, were not present at Monday’s foundation-laying ceremony. Sinha said, “Since the function was organised at a short notice, it was decided to send the invite not to the 34-member Society, since many members are outside Delhi, but only to the eight-member NMML Executive Council.”
Some EC members such as M J Akbar, Lokesh Chandra and A Surya Prakash were also not present.
The 10,975.36-sq m museum will have a basement, ground floor and first floor with galleries at all three levels. The entrance will be from the top floor, which is built in the shape of Ashok Chakra, and visitors will walk down to the various galleries.
Sinha said exhibitions on all PMs will held in the present building until the new building is constructed.