A case for the defense of Nehru Memorial: All you need to know about Manmohan Singh’s letter to the PM

By Prarthana Mitra

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has taken up the Centre’s latest endeavour to set up a memorial for all prime ministers in New Delhi’s Teen Murti Bhavan complex in a strongly-worded letter to current Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging him to preserve the sanctity of the complex which houses the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML).

Singh’s letter to Modi

The letter addressed to the Prime Minister and dated August 24, condemns any attempt to change “the nature and character” of the NMML, which ought not to be “disturbed” under any circumstances. Even Atal Bihari Vajpayee, whose recent demise has sparked the debate and a long retinue of proposals for memorials, never attempted to “change the nature and character of the NMML and the Teen Murti complex in any way,” reminds Dr Singh. “But sadly, that seems to be part of the agenda of the Government of India now.”

“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’,” reads the letter.

The debate is gaining steady ground

Singh has reminded the Modi government time and again to respect the country’s history and heritage. The Congress leader has, in the past, written to President Ram Nath Kovind, requesting him to warn Modi against using ‘unwarranted, threatening and intimidating language’ while addressing India’s grand old party.

The latest epistle firmly states that Jawaharlal Nehru does not belong to Congress alone. As the first prime minister of independent India and the prime architect of the Indian nation-state, Singh asserts that Nehru will always be a national treasure for leaving behind an indelible imprint on our country and indeed on the world.

The historic site in dispute must remain, according to Singh, “a centre of first-rate scholarship and professional excellence” and the museum itself must retain its primary focus on Jawaharlal Nehru and the freedom movement. Speaking of his role and unique contributions, Singh said that “no amount of revisionism” can “obliterate” or evict them.

Prarthana Mitra is a staff writer at Qrius

Narendra Modi