NEW DELHI: The newly appointed Minister for Tourism and Culture Ambika Soni has received her first rebuke from none other than the Indian History Congress (IHC). The IHC has asked the Culture Minister to revoke the ministry’s decision not to observe the 400th year of Mughal emperor Akbar’s death.
Last week, the IHC held its 66th annual session at Santiniketan, West Bengal, the largest session in the history of the organisation, with over 1,400 delegates coming from all over the country and abroad. The conference was inaugurated by Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee and addressed, among others by Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee.
The IHC passed four resolutions which was adopted by the executive committee. Top of the agenda was its call to the Congress-led UPA Government “to reverse its decision not to celebrate the memory of Emperor Akbar on his 4th centenary anniversary, and that it must observe it in a proper manner”.
In its resolution, the IHC accused the UPA Government of “similar prejudices as that of the BJP-led NDA Government” when it likened the UPA to its predecessor’s decision not to observe the second centenary of the Fall of Srirangapatnam and Tipu Sultan’s death.
Culture Minister Ambika Soni told this website’s newspaper, this was the first time she had heard of the resolution, and she would seek a clarification from the ministry. Said Soni: “I met ministry officials last week, even met former minister S Jaipal Reddy after I took over, but no one brought this to my attention.” Under Reddy, the ministry had turned down the IHC’s proposal in November 2005 to hold national celebrations in Akbar’s memory. In a letter on January 9, an under secretary informed the history body that the proposal could not be considered as “it does not come under the scheme.” Scheme, says the IHC, presumably means that of commemorating nationally important persons and events. Soni says she will meet Culture Ministry officials on Tuesday and ask them about the proposal. “Since nobody brought it to my attention, I will ask my officials for a brief on the proposal,” said Soni. The minister, however, did not make a commitment to accept the proposal. The IHC, in turn, has taken a firm stand saying it “cannot accept such an attitude (from the Centre) where there is no explanation offered, and why it cannot accord Akbar a place among the great personalities of India. We cannot agree with such an attitude, and the decision must be reversed.”