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Family vanity makes Gandhis blind to reality

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By Sidharth Mishra

In the medieval times one of the early Sultans to have ruled Delhi, though briefly, was Nasiruddin Mahmud. Historical texts refer to a very interesting fact about how an announcement was made regarding his entry into the court. It would be said, “The rule of the Lord of the world extends from Delhi to Palam.” It’s time that the residents of the 10 Janpath realised if they were in close race with Mahmud.

This comparison was necessitated as Mahmud failed to realise his actual worth and continued to live life, to use much clichéd expression, kingsize. The Nehru-Gandhi family in behaving in similar manner is causing harm to their cause than adding any value to their charisma.

On April 14, Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated on the premises of the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library a museum in the memory of every other Prime Minister. Invitations were sent out to the relatives of all the living former Prime Ministers and the next of kin of late former Prime Ministers.

The Nehru-Gandhi family members, who draw their legacy from three Prime Ministers – Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi, chose not to attend, for reasons not really known to anybody. Dr Manmohan Singh, the last Prime Minister given by the Congress could not attend due to ill health.

There could not have been case of the Gandhis being on the ‘sick list’ as on the same day they had attended a function in Parliament to commemorate the memory of Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar. So what could be the reason for them to not attend the function at the Teen Murti House?

In the national Capital there is a large acreage of land and number of heritage buildings dedicated to the memories of the different Prime Ministers. If the government plans to make these memorial part of a scientifically developed museum with most modern gadgets for the dissemination of information, what could be reservation?

Built at the cost of Rs 271 crore at the Teen Murti Complex, the museum catalogues the lives and contributions of all the 14 former Prime Ministers of the country. The existing Nehru Museum building, designated now as Block I, has been technologically updated, showcasing the life and contributions of the first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. A number of gifts received by him from all over the world but not exhibited so far have also been given space now.

The only reservation could be that Nehru has now been made to share his house with the other Prime Ministers who too occupied the South Block office. This raises the question if it was prudent decision on the death of Jawaharlal Nehru to convert then Prime Minister’s residence to a memorial dedicated to one person.

This heritage building on being inaugurated was designated as Flagstaff House in 1930, and remained residence of the Commander-in-Chief of Forces in India who maintained unified command of the British Indian Army, British Army, and princely states forces. 

After independence in August 1947, Field Marshal Claude Auchinleck, the Commander-in-Chief relocated and the house became the official residence of the Prime Minister. The complex is situated in a 30-acre estate and the building is constructed of white stone and stucco, and faces the south side of the Viceroy's House, known as Rashtrapati Bhawan since 1950. The building overlooks a well-kept lawn, has arched entry and pillared verandahs.

In 1964, following the death of Jawarharlal Nehru, the house was converted into a national memorial to him comprising a library and a museum. In 1984, under the patronage of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who also was Nehru's daughter, a Planetarium was added to the complex, which has consistently been upgraded keeping with time. In fact, even before that in 1974, a separate block was built in the complex to house the library.

Thus there cannot be a complaint about original plan of the complex being disturbed by the present government. As the library and the planetarium has contributed substantially to dissemination of knowledge, so would be the new museum block. Why should there be any reservation for it?

Coming back to the medieval history, the later Mughal rulers faced a unique problem. They could not give away the title of Emperor even as they lived like prisoners of the past in highly dilapidated Red Fort. All the worthy ‘Sipahsalars’ (commanders) of the Nehru-Gandhi clan have charted their own course. Some have joined the opposition ranks, others have created their own ‘Subas’ (territories of influence).

The earlier this realisation dawns on the family, better the chances for the Congress to recover some parts of its lost vast territories. As a famous India-baiter Winston Churchill, paraphrasing Spanish philosopher George Santayana, once said, “Those who don’t learn from history are condemned to repeat it.”

 (First published in The First Post)


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