Ex-Vajpayee aide likely to be named Nehru Memorial Museum head

New Delhi, Aug 17 (PTI) Shakti Sinha, private secretary toformer prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, is likely to beappointed as director of Nehru Memorial Museum & Library soonamid speculation that the selection process could be startedafresh as dissenting voices were raised on his shortlisting. "The appointment for the director at NMML will beannounced soon after Raksha Bandhan… Shakti Sinha will beselected as the new director of the premier institution," asource in the Culture Ministry said. Controversy erupted over the appointment of NMML directorafter a prominent member of its Executive Council (EC) PratapBhanu Mehta quit allegedly over shortlisting of Sinha, whoreportedly until a few days ago was a director in IndiaFoundation, a think tank aligned to RSS. Besides renowned political scientist Mehta, there werefive others in the selection committee, headed by Minister ofState for External Affairs and vice-chairperson of NMML’s EC MJ Akbar who is also on the India Foundation board. Another member of the selection committee Prasar BhartiChairman A Surya Prakash is also on the India FoundationBoard, which also included senior BJP leader Ram Madhav,Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Minister of State forCivil Aviation Jayant Sinha. A strong dissenting voice also came from Nitin Desai,economist and former Under Secretary General of the UN, at ameeting last week over two names — Sinha and Indira GandhiNational Open University academic Kapil Kumar. It was, however, widely speculated that government mayscrap the whole process of the selection, taking note of thedissenting voices and start the process afresh. "No, the government is not going to scrap the process andwill go ahead with the announcement," the source said. The post of director at NMML is lying vacant since lastyear after UPA appointee Mahesh Rangarajan stepped down afterthe ruling NDA described his appointment as "illegal andunethical". An IAS officer of 1979 batch from AGMUT cadre, Sinha wasconsidered as a highly influential joint secretary inVajpayee’s PMO in the late 1990s. He had also served asprivate secretary to Vajpayee. He had taken voluntary retirement in 2013 when he wasserving as Finance secretary in Delhi government. The advertisement issued for the director’s post is alsoreportedly been modified at the last moment to accommodateSinha. Established in the memory of India’s first prime minister,Jawaharlal Nehru, NMML is an autonomous institution under theMinistry of Culture. PTI MPZMN


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