NEW DELHI: Days after his appointment was termed “illegal and unethical” by the government, director of the prestigious Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML) Mahesh Rangarajan tendered his resignation on Thursday, which was immediately accepted.
Rangarajan was appointed by the UPA government and permanently absorbed in the post during the last days of its tenure in 2014. The NDA government had initiated an inquiry into his appointment on an anonymous complaint. Pressure mounted on Rangarajan as Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma called his appointment illegal, forcing him to finally resign.
With his resignation, the NDA government has been able to force the exit of a UPA appointee. The government is carrying out an NMML revamp by also bringing in focus on Jan Sangh ideologues Deen Dayal Upadhyaya and Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, which evoked sharp reactions from Congress leaders.
Fearing that the issue might invite further controversy, Culture Minister Sharma, at a hurriedly convened press conference, clarified, “The director Mahesh Rangarajan had resigned two days ago, but his resignation was rejected by the executive council of the NMML. But he again resigned yesterday after which it was accepted by the council.” Sharma went on to give facts of the case as to how Rangarajan’s appointment was illegal. “His proposal was moved on April 30, 2014 and the Election Commission’s concurrence sought. The model code of conduct came into force on March 5. On May 12, the Election Commission gave a direction that the process be deferred. But in the meantime, the appointments committee of the cabinet headed by the then PM Manmohan Singh approved his absorption into NMML on May 14, two days ahead of election results. May 14 was a gazetted holiday on account of Budh Poornima,” Sharma said, hinting at the ‘illegality’ of the erstwhile UPA government’s move.
He, however, denied his ministry putting any pressure on Rangarajan to resign, but stuck to his stand that norms were “thrown to the winds” by the UPA government in his permanent absorption in the post.