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Centre accepts Mahesh Rangarajan's resignation as Nehru Memorial Museum director

New Delhi:  Caught in the midst of a controversy, Mahesh Rangarajan, UPA-appointed Director of Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML), has pressed ahead with his resignation from the post, which was accepted today.       "NMML Director
PTI September 17, 2015 19:04 IST
PTI

New Delhi:  Caught in the midst of a controversy, Mahesh Rangarajan, UPA-appointed Director of Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML), has pressed ahead with his resignation from the post, which was accepted today.
       
"NMML Director Rangarajan resigned from his post yesterday. It has been accepted by the Executive Council Chairman Lokesh Chandra. He had resigned two days back as well but the Council had not accepted it and had asked him to stay on.
   
"But he resigned for the second time. The Council has accepted the resignation now and informed the government that the post is lying vacant. Now we have to appoint a new Director," Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma told a press conference.

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Mr Rangarajan's resignation came more than a week after Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma criticised his appointment calling it "illegal and unethical", a charge he repeated even today.
   
It also came in the midst of the Congress party accusing the government of being engaged in "diabolical" actions to belittle the legacy of Nehru by going for a "complete revamp".
   
Mr Sharma had raked up the appointment of Mr Rangarajan by the outgoing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh just two days before the Lok Sabha election results were declared last year.

He had questioned the "haste" in the appointment.    

The Union Minister, however, vehemently denied his ministry putting any pressure verbally or in writing on Mr Rangarjan to resign but stuck to his stand that norms were "thrown to the winds" by the UPA government in permanent absorption of Mr Rangarajan for the post.
 
"There has to be some limit to irregularities," he said when asked why did he question Mr Rangarajan's appointment if the government did want him to go.
        
Mr Sharma said he called the press conference today to clear the air over the issue insisting that the government had no hand in Mr Rangarajan's resignation.
   
He sought to rubbish the charge of preferential treatment to sympathisers saying at least two of the eminent persons appointed by the UPA government - Nitin Desai and Pratap Bhanu Mehta - were still in the NMML Executive Council.
 
"Our ministry did not put any any pressure on him verbally or in writing. I have not spoken to him for last three months. Rangarajan has already cited personal reasons for his resignation," he said.
 
Asked why did the government begin probing the appointment after one year of coming to power, the minister said that he had received an anonymous letter three months ago and after that the government started examining the issue.
 
A Suryaprakash, one of the members of the Executive Council, said the Council unanimously rejected the offer of Mr Rangarajan's resignation on Monday because he had done outstanding job during his tenure at the NMML.
 
The Council appealed to him to reconsider the decision but he wrote a fresh resignation letter again and insisted that he wanted to quit because of personal reasons including the health of his mother.

"How do we hold a person against his wishes," Mr Suryaprakash said.
 
Mr Sharma said that the government will form a search committee to find out a suitable person to fulfil the post immediately.
 
To repeated questions on whether any action will be taken against Mr Rangarajan, he said "no specific action" has been initiated and the enquiry about his appointment is a "routine process".

"I have no problem with an individual but if there is a procedural lapse, it has to be examined," he said.

Rejecting the Congress criticism over revamp of the Nehru Memorial, he said that it was initiated by the UPA government, which the present government is only carrying forward.

"This government has nothing to do with revamping," he insisted.

Mr Sharma said the UPA government went ahead with the decision on the permanent absorption of Mr Rangarajan for the post despite the Election Commission writing a letter on May 12, 2014 to the Culture Ministry asking it to defer the proposal till the election process was over.

However, on May 14, a cabinet committee meeting decided that the Director of Nehru Memorial will be appointed, Mr Sharma said, adding despite Election Commission's orders, Mr Rangarajan was made director on May 19 on permanent absorption basis till retirement.

As a result of the change made by UPA last year, Mr Rangarajan's three-year tenure which was to end in August 2014 was changed to a permanent job till retirement age (60) which meant he got 10 more years in office till 2024.