India has come a long way from where it was when the country became independent in 1947. Like any other nation, this process of national progress cannot be attributed to any one particular head of the government but is the result of combined efforts of several prime ministers who have assumed the top office till date. India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru is often exalted to a status higher than all his successors by some of his blind followers. There is no doubt about the fact that Nehru was a towering statesman and enjoyed immense popularity. But to say that Nehru should be solely credited for taking India to a position that we see it today would be grossly unfair. Notwithstanding, Nehru’s undisputed status as a statesman of his times, there are a number of national achievements which have been the result of monumental efforts made by Nehru’s successors.
It would be totally unreasonable to use Nehru’s legacy to undermine, for instance, Lal Bahadur Shastri’s courageous leadership and the initiation of green revolution which transformed Indian agriculture and took the nation on the path to self-reliance. Similarly, it would be highly unjustified to dismiss lightly, former prime minister Narasimha Rao’s efforts to take the nation on the path of economic liberalisation after several decades of blatant state control predominantly on account of the ideology that Nehru had imposed upon India. Prime minister Indira Gandhi’s strong leadership skills at display during the 1971 war can also not be undermined as a part of the nation building process. Atal ji’s efforts to revitalise the Indian economy and his visionary projects including the Golden Quadrilateral and the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) can also not be overlooked if we were to take a look at the history of independent India. Finally, we can also not dismiss lightly how the current prime minister, Narendra Modi has raised the bar by reaching to the man in the last rung of the society. Schemes and programmes like the Ujjwala Yojana, Jan Dhan Yojana, Swachh Bharat Mission, etc. have set new standards as far as pro-people governance is concerned.
Unfortunately, despite the monumental efforts by other heads of government, Nehru has been constantly projected as the holy cow of Indian politics and the greatest among all prime ministers till date. Congress and the entire Lutyens’ cabal have been guilty of this obnoxious trend. This is primarily the reason why an entire memorial, the Teen Murti complex was dedicated to Jawaharlal Nehru. The complex currently serves as a Nehru museum and lauds only Nehru’s role in the independence struggle followed by his allegedly momentous contribution in nation building. It is grossly unjustified how a particular prime minister has been hailed as the greatest among all prime ministers. This blind adulation needs to be stopped and it seems that the Modi government is just doing that.
In a historic move, the Modi government is planning to set up a museum for all prime ministers in the Teen Murti complex that once used to be the official residence of the first prime minister of the nation, Jawaharlal Nehru. However, the Congress has not been able to digest how they will no longer be able to project Nehru as an unblemished prime minister in order to make electoral gains. Staggered by this move, the Congress has been strongly objecting and has been claiming that this will dilute Nehru’s legacy. Former prime minister Manmohan Singh even wrote a letter to prime minister Modi arguing against a memorial for all other prime ministers within the Teen Murti estate. He stated that Nehru belongs not only to the Congress but the entire nation and further wrote, “let us respect this sentiment and keep Teen Murti as a memorial to our first Prime Minister Pandit Nehru and leave the Teen Murti complex undisturbed as it is. This way we will be respecting both history and heritage”. It is beyond comprehension how celebrating the legacy of other prime ministers can dilute the legacy of Nehru. The fact remains that Nehru’s space within the complex is not going to be disturbed and merely another museum is going to come up.
Prime minister Modi is finally ridding the country of blind adulation towards Nehru but it seems that the Congress is desperate to maintain the status quo in order to continue using Nehru for political gains.