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Dilute Ram, preserve Nehru: How Congress’ position on Teen Murti exposes the party’s idea of heritage

Teen Murti Bhavan, a sprawling property of 30 acres where the first prime minister of independent India lived, worked and died. The luxurious and, might I add, gorgeous property has served as a memorial for Jawaharlal Nehru. This Thursday, Nehru Memorial Museum and Library society decided to construct a new museum inside the Teen Murti Bhavan in honour of other PMs – both former, as well as future ones, a proposal that was floated in December 2017 by the Modi, led central government.

As the decision surfaced, the loyal foot soldiers of the dynasty were, expectedly, up in arms. Former prime minister Manmohan Singh wrote a ‘scathing’ letter to PM Modi, urging him to leave the Teen Murti Bhavan untouched. He accused the government of harbouring an ‘agenda’ to ‘change the nature and character’ of the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML) and the Teen Murti complex. Manmohan Singh also writes that Jawaharlal Nehru doesn’t belong just to the Congress, but to the entire nation.

“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 said.

It is said that when History is erased, people’s moral values are also erased. It is also said that it is good to be proud of one’s heritage, but that pride shouldn’t be perverted. Congress seems to have perverted their pride in the Dynasty’s heritage to erase portions of history that don’t include them, thereby, attempting to corrupt the moral values of a society.

India’s history encompasses all its leaders, past, present, future. The good, bad and the ugly. If the Congress is so concerned about the Country’s heritage and history, one has got to wonder why it would have a problem, or why it would think that history is being undermined by the inclusion of all others who are inextricable parts of it.

Their reverence, or the lack of it, for other leaders of India is not unknown. The shameful treatment met out to former Prime Minister and Congress President PV Narasimha Rao.

How Congress treats leaders who don’t belong to the Nehru clan can be understood by just these 2 lines from the book, Half Lion. Two lines that epitomise how former PM Rao was humiliated in death.

“When the dignitaries left a couple of hours later, the body was still burning. That night, (local) television channels showed visuals of the half-burnt body, skull still visible, lying abandoned. Stray dogs were pulling at the funeral pyre”. (Half Lion, Location 119).

History means nothing to Congress. Heritage means nothing to Congress. One then recalls how Congress stood up tall in court to assert that Lord Ram was a mere fictional character and that the Ram Setu must be demolished. In 2007, the government in an affidavit to the Supreme Court in the Sethusamudram project case had not only dismissed the existence of any man-made bridge between India and Sri Lanka but even questioned the existence of the characters of Ramayana.

For the Congress, PV Narasimha Rao wasn’t a part of history. For the Congress, Ram Setu isn’t a part of Heritage. For the Congress, history starts and ends with the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty, and heritage starts and ends with the monuments that glorify only the dynasty. Why else would they let Rao’s body be pulled and tugged by stray dogs? Why else would they want to allow the Ram Setu to be torn apart? Why else would they not even commemorate the Kargil war, terming it the BJP’s war? Why else would they actively work towards the Ram temple at Ayodhya never being built?

Why else would they think history and heritage are being undermined if the memory of prime ministers other than Jawaharlal Nehru get the place they deserve?

Quod Erat Demonstrandum: For Congress, history starts and ends with Nehru. Heritage starts and ends with structures that glorify him, and his lineage.

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Nupur J Sharma
Editor, OpIndia.com since October 2017

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