New Delhi: The controversy involving the appointment of Mahesh Rangarajan, director of Nehru Memorial Museum and Library (NMML), took a new turn with the culture ministry on Thursday accepting his resignation.
Speaking to reporters here, union Culture minister Mahesh Sharma said the executive council of NMML has accepted Rangarajan's resignation.
"The resignation of Mahesh Rangarajan dated September 16 has been accepted by the executive council of the NMML. Although he offered his resignation two days ago, the council gave him time to rethink," the minister said.
Denying any pressure on Rangarajan to resign, the minister said it was his personal choice. "I have no problems with him. There was no pressure from any quarters for him to resign. It is his personal choice," the minister said.
Rangarajan's resignation came close on the heels of Sharma terming his appointment as "illegal and unethical" last week.
Rangarajan offered to resign on Monday citing personal reasons. However, the executive council did not accept his resignation.
Reiterating the charges, the minister said the appointment was done violating the code of conduct of the Election Commission in May last year.
"There are certain irregularities in the appointment. The appointment was made despite the EC's order to the culture ministry on May 12, 2014, asking it to stop the appointment of Rangarajan," the minister said, adding that the UPA had violated rules on absorbing him permanently for the post.
Rangarajan's appointment was approved by the erstwhile UPA government on May 14, two days after the last day of polling - when the EC's Model Code of Conduct ceases to be operational.
The minister added that Rangarajan took charge as director on May 19, 2014. "Lot of questions were raised at the time and the mode of his appointment," he said.
On questions of why it took a year to look into the irregularities of the appointment, the minister said that the ministry started inquiring after getting information through an anonymous informer three months ago.
"Three months ago, we got the information through an anonymous source. That's when we started looking seriously into the matter," he said.
Rubbishing allegations of "saffronisation of NMML" by the Congress and a section of historians, the minister said the proposal of revamping of NMML was initiated by the UPA government and his ministry is only taking it forward.
"The idea of revamping NMML was mooted by the previous Congress government. We are only carrying it forward. We have earmarked Rs.10 crore for the upgradation process," said Sharma.
The minister said there could be inquiry into Rangarajan's appointment. "It is not his fault. But I am not ruling out probe if there is irregularities involved," said Sharma.
The minister also said the process of searching and appointing a new director of NMML will begin soon.