New Delhi, Nov 13 (PTI) A first of its kind book exhibition on all Indian prime ministers kicked off today at the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library which has been the focus of debates on whether the place should remain exclusively the repository of information about Jawaharlal Nehru or not.

The exhibition is part of plans to set up a museum on the NMML premises dedicated to all Indian prime ministers. The move has been criticised by Congress leaders who say that the exclusivity of the institution dedicated to the life and work of the country’s first prime minister shouldn’t be “altered”.

The proposed museum is expected to to start by the end of next year, NMML director Shakti Sinha said.

“It is sad that an exhibition of this kind had to wait for 70 years,” NMML Executive Council member A Surya Prakash told reporters after inaugurating the exhibition.

“Democracy and diversity are two sides of the same coin.

Where you have respect for diversity, you can say the democracy flourishes there,” he said.

The exhibition, which has close to 500 books–either on the prime ministers or written by them–will run till November 19.

“You can see the social and political diversity in the list of our prime ministers. It is celebration of democracy and diversity. We are not a monarchy,” Prakash said.

On allegations that the initiative was part of the government’s move to dilute the legacy of Nehru, he said there were maximum number of books on him in the exhibition.

“Nobody is diluting Nehru’s legacy. How come we have not paid attention to Morarji Desai or other prime ministers like Narasimha Rao who had turned around the Indian economy,” he said.

“We have to accord Rao the place due to him and also the other prime ministers,” he said, adding that each of them had a role to play in building the blocks of democracy and development of the country.

Responding to a query over the proposed museum dedicated to all the prime ministers, he said, “Some work has begun on that. I want that (museum) to happen. We must acknowledge the works of all prime ministers.”

Sinha, the NMML director, said keeping in mind the increase in footfall on weekends, the exhibition which was planned till November 17 will be be extended till November 19.

The NMML plans to hold exhibitions on all prime minister individually till the museum is ready, Sinha said adding that the proposed museum, with focus on digital technology, is expected to start by next year.

“It will have a lot of information about the life of all the prime ministers of India, important incidents and controversy in their lives,” he said.

Recently, an exhibition on the second prime minister of India, Lal Bahadur Shastri, was organised at the NMML premises, Sinha said, adding that such separate exhibitions would also be held on other prime ministers in the coming days.

The NMML, established in the memory of Nehru, is an autonomous institution under the Union Ministry of Culture.

It is located in the majestic Teen Murti House which was the official residence of Nehru.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.