New Delhi: The government on Thursday reconstituted the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) Trust, appointing journalist Ram Bahadur Rai as its president. While the government said the new appointees were "deserving people", the Congress said it was another step to undermine established institutions.
The move comes exactly a year after the Narendra Modi government revamped the Nehru Memorial Museum Library Society (NMMLS), considered a Congress legacy.
Rai, a former news editor of Hindi daily Jansatta, replaces former diplomat Chinmaya Gharekhan. A culture ministry statement said the reconstitution was being done with immediate effect.
The 19 members of the newly-constituted board include danceuse Sonal Mansingh, Bollywood lyricist Prasoon Joshi and artist Vasudeo Kamath.
Interestingly, both Rai and Joshi were awarded Padma Shri, India's fourth highest civilian honour, in 2015.
Joshi was also part of the team that successfully helmed the BJP's election campaign during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls and wrote the BJP's anthem "Saugandh is mitti ki".
After winning the elections, Modi had praised Joshi, among others, on social media for his efforts.
Union Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma said the new appointees were "deserving people".
"Ram Bahadur Rai is a well known journalist and deserving as well. Such people will increase the fame of the institute," he said.
However, Congress leader Anand Sharma said it was another "step at undermining the established institutions".
"We strongly criticise this development as they have done these things previously as well. This is the pre-determined agenda of not only the government but also its parent organisation RSS," Sharma said.
"This government's agenda is divisive, diversionary, diabolic and it has mindset of confrontation. The prime minister talks of taking everyone along but his government has acted in a manner which has only created conflicts and divisions in the polity," he added.
The newly constituted board of the INGNCA Trust also has Chandraprakash Dwivedi, Nitin Desai, K. Arvinda Rao, Mahesh Chandra Sharma, Bharat Gupta, M. Seshan, Rati Vinay Jha, Nirmala Sharma, Harsh Neotia, Padma Subrahmaniam, Saryu Doshi, D.P. Sinha and Viraj Yagnik as members.
The IGNCA was launched on November 19, 1985, by then prime minister Rajiv Gandhi in memory of his mother and late prime minister Indira Gandhi.
The IGNCA was established in 1987 as an autonomous institution under the culture ministry as a centre for research and academic pursuit in the field of arts.