New Delhi, Oct 15 (IANS) Amid severe criticism from Congress leaders, the foundation stone for the “Museum of Prime Ministers” was laid on Monday by Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma and Minister of State for Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri at the Teen Murti estate here.
The Congress opposed the move, saying “despite working on the promises the government made to the people of the country four-and-a-half years ago, it is trying to finish the legacy of Jawaharlal Nehru and his great contribution in building the country.
“It is a matter of concern that the government is only trying to erase the legacy of a person who had been in jail for several years to make India free, who has been a front runner in the freedom movement and put a foundation stone in making India great,” Congress spokesperson S.P.K. Singh said here.
Sharma conducted the Bhoomi Poojan for the proposed museum at the Teen Murti Estate and said the museum will be constructed at a cost of Rs 271 crore. He said it will have a basement, a ground floor and a first floor, with galleries on all levels, and will be completed within a year.
Spread over 10,975.36 sq.m area, Sharma said, the museum shall depict modern India through “the collections relating to each Prime Minister of India, their lives, works and significant contributions made towards nation building”.
He said the national capital at present had memorials dedicated to only three Prime Ministers — Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Lal Bahadur Shastri.
“The people of the country deserve to know the contribution of all PMs including Morarji Desai, Charan Singh, Rajiv Gandhi, V.P. Singh, Chandra Shekhar, P.V. Narasimha Rao, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, H.D. Deve Gowda, I.K. Gujral, Manmohan Singh and Narendra Modi,” Sharma added.
He said that the state-of-the-art design of the upcoming museum “is symbolic of an emergent and rising India”.
The Central government’s move to construct the Museum of Prime Ministers inside the premises of the Teen Murti Estate, which, apart from housing the Nehru Memorial Museum Library (NMML) was also Nehru’s residence for 16 years until his death on May 27, 1964, has courted much controversy.
Congress leaders including former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had been opposing the move, saying that the government was trying to “dilute” Nehru’s legacy by changing the character of the Nehru Memorial Museum Library.
The Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund, chaired by Sonia Gandhi and housed in the Teen Murti Estate, had been asked by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development to vacate the premises on grounds of “unauthorised occupation”.
A letter from the Ministry said that NMML was in “dire need of space” and alleged that the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund was occupying the premises “without any authority of law”.
Responding to the notice, N. Balakrishnan, Administrative Secretary of the Jawaharlal Nehru Memorial Fund, refuted to provide its premise.
Balakrishnan told IANS on Monday that there had been no further communication from the government.