New Delhi: Congress leader and Rajya Sabha MP Jairam Ramesh wrote to Vice-President M. Venkaiah Naidu Thursday, expressing his opposition to former BJP MP Tarun Vijay being the chairperson of the National Monuments Authority (NMA), two years after he was appointed.
In the letter, Ramesh requested to move a privilege motion against Union Minister of Culture G. Kishan Reddy for appointing Vijay and “for willfully disregarding the provisions of law passed by Parliament”.
“[Reddy] has, in fact, made a mockery of this law,” Ramesh added in the letter.
Vijay, a former Rajya Sabha MP and former editor of RSS-linked weekly publication Panchjanya, has authored books such as Saffron Surge. He was appointed as NMA chair in 2019 by Reddy’s predecessor, Prahlad Singh Patel.
Asked by ThePrint why he was writing about a two-year-old appointment and moving a motion against a minister who didn’t make the appointment, Jairam Ramesh said through a text message: “I found out only last night which, admittedly, reflects poorly on my monitoring as well as how diligent media is in covering this government. Current minister because he is the incumbent when I am writing.”
‘Does not meet requirements’
Ramesh argued that Tarun Vijay’s “education and professional background” does not meet the requirements for the position as mandated by the law.
In his letter to Vice-President Naidu, also the Rajya Sabha Chairman, Ramesh cited Section 20F of The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment and Validation) Act, 2010, which states that the NMA chairperson must have “proven experience and expertise” in “archaeology, country and town planning, architecture, heritage, conservation architecture or law”.
Vijay has previously been at the centre of a media controversy in April 2017 for his comments on the complexion of “South Indians”, when speaking on racist hate crimes against Africans living in India. Vijay had apologised for his remarks a few days later.
What is the NMA?
Set up in 2010 under the Ministry of Culture following the enactment of The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains (Amendment and Validation) Act, the NMA is responsible for the “protection and preservation of monuments and sites through management of the prohibited and regulated area around the centrally protected monuments”.
“One amongst these responsibilities of NMA is also to consider grant of permissions to applicants for construction related activity in the prohibited and regulated area,” the NMA’s website says.
(Edited by Paramita Ghosh)