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Justifying transfers, Culture Minister claims no attempt of ‘saffronisation’

By NewsGram Staff Writer

Addressing the change at the National Museum and the Lalit Kala Akademi, the Minister of State for Culture, Mahesh Sharma claimed that this move is to bring new talent with no attempts of ‘saffronisation’.

“We took the decision to change the heads of institutions in the interest of the organisations, not individuals,” Sharma said. He further added that the ministry works in the interest of the organisations and not individuals.

Sharma claimed that the ‘so-called intellectuals’ who lacked faith in the democratic are behind these baseless rumours. “The intellectuals who have gone to court against the government have no faith in the democratic system. Where is the question of saffronisation? In the Akademi, we have given charge to an additional secretary. If he is saffronised, every bureaucrat in the government is saffronised,” he added.

The ministry has been in the eye over the abrupt transfers of National Museum head Venu Vasudevan and Lalit Kala Akademi chief Kalyan Kumar Chakravarty. Defending the government taking over the Lalit Kala Akademi, an autonomous body under the culture ministry, he said this was based on complaints about its mismanagement.

“There is a process of upgrading and addressing issues of the Akademi. We have received many complaints of mismanagement, embezzlement of funds and misappropriation from a section of artists and we acted upon it,” he said.

A group of artists have moved to the Delhi High Court accusing the government of “trying to change the character” of the Akademi. Sharma said that he would not give importance to the complaint.

“I am not going to give importance to people like Ashok Vajpeyi who officially called Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Godhra murderer,” said Sharma. Vajpeyi, a noted Hindi poet, was the Akademi’s chairman from 2008 to 2011.

Vasudevan’s overnight transfer also invited scathing attacks from various quarters. Vasudevan, who revived the National Museum with many innovative and ambitious plans, was transferred to the sports ministry in April. Sharma maintained that the transfer was a routine administrative process.

“We have nothing against Venu Vasudevan. He was appointed as an administrator and was doing good work. However, we were always on the lookout for better people who have more technical experience related to museums,” said Sharma.

Vasudevan, whose tenure was supposed to expire in December 2016, was shunted without being given any specific reason. While the advertisement for Vasudevan’s replacement was issued only after his transfer, Sharma said the “right person” had already been identified.

However, the future of many ambitious projects that were in the pipeline are in a limbo after Vasudevan’s exit. Protesting his transfer, Ashok Vajpeyi, historian Romila Thapar and art critic Ranjit Hoskote have initiated an online petition that is likely to be submitted to President Pranab Mukherjee.

Eyebrows were raised when Dipali Khanna did not get a second term as the Member Secretary of the Indira Gandhi National Centre of Arts (IGNCA). Earlier this year, Leela Sampson had quit as the censor board chief after its decision against a film was overturned by an appellate tribunal. The censor board comes under the information and broadcasting ministry.

(Inputs from IANS)

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