IN A strongly worded letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has raised concerns over what he described as an “agenda” to “change the nature and character” of the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML) and the Teen Murti complex.
Stating that Jawaharlal Nehru belongs “not just to the Congress” but to the “entire nation,” Singh has asked that the Teen Murti complex be left “undisturbed”.
In the letter sent last week, Singh invoked former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and said that under Vajpayee’s six-year tenure as PM, “there was absolutely no attempt made to change the nature and character of the NMML and the Teen Murti complex in any way. But sadly, that seems to be part of the agenda of the Government of India now.”
Singh’s letter comes amidst the controversy surrounding the Government’s plans to set up a museum for all Prime Ministers within the Teen Murti complex with the Congress alleging that it is an attempt to “obliterate” Nehru’s legacy.
Singh, in his letter, has also pointed out that “no amount of revisionism” can “obliterate” Nehru’s role and his contributions. He quoted Vajpayee’s speech in Parliament when Nehru passed away, and said: “As Atal Bihari Vajpayeeji himself said in his moving speech to Parliament when Panditji passed away: ‘Such a resident may never grace Teen Murti again. That vibrant personality, that attitude of taking even the opposition along, that refined gentlemanliness, that greatness we may not again see in the near future. In spite of a difference of opinion we have nothing but respect for his great ideals, his integrity, his love for the country and his indomitable courage’.”
Singh wrote: “Let us respect this sentiment and keep Teen Murti as a memorial to our first Prime Minister Pandit Nehru and leave the Teen Murti complex undisturbed as it is. This way we will be respecting both history and heritage.”
He wrote: “Jawaharlal Nehru belongs not just to the Congress but to the entire nation. It is in this spirit that I have written to you.”
Singh wrote that NMML is “dedicated to the memory of India’s first Prime Minister and prime architect of the Indian nation-state who left behind an indelible imprint on our country and indeed on the world.” On Nehru, he wrote: “His distinctiveness and greatness have been acknowledged even by his political opponents and rivals.”
Singh wrote that NMML “must remain a centre of first-rate scholarship and professional excellence. The museum itself must retain its primary focus on Jawaharlal Nehru and the freedom movement because of his unique role having spent almost ten years in jail between the early 1920s and mid-1940s. No amount of revisionism can obliterate that role and his contributions.”