indiraDelhi: In one stroke on Thursday, the Modi government reconstituted the board of trustees of Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) and replaced the members with its own favourites. To be headed by veteran journalist Ram Bahadur Rai, an RSS insider and an associate of late Jayprakash Narayan during the Emergency, the new board also has Daya Prakash Sinha of RSS’s Sanskar Bharati, who rose to fame with his campaign against late artist M F Husain.
Rai, who wrote a biography of former PM Chandrasekhar – ‘Rahbari Ke Sawal’ – and of V P Singh titled ‘Manjil Se Jyada Safar’, worked as news editor in ‘Jansatta’ and now edits the monthly ‘Yatarth’, where in December 2014 he made some revelations on the demolition of Babri masjid.
Appointed by the UPA, many members of the previous board had three years left of their five year-term. Terms can also be renewed.
The culture ministry only retained danseuse Padma Subrahmanyam from the previous board. The incoming members are known for their proximity to BJP. They includes Odissi dancer Sonal Mansingh, film director Chandraprakash Dwivedi, also a member of the Censor Board, lyricist and adman Prasoon Joshi, former chairperson of Khadi and Village Industries Corporation Mahesh Sharma, former Andhra Pradesh DGP K Aravinda Rao, also author of ‘How To Tell Hinduism To Your Child’, portrait artist Vasudeo Kamath, author of ‘Thulasidasarum Thulasiramayanamum’ M Seshan, and industrialist and art aficionado Harsh Neotia.

A few experts have also been roped in. They include retired IAS officer Rathi Vinay Jha of 1967 batch, Karnataka cadre. A former head of Fashion Design Council of India, Jha was instrumental in the establishment of National Institutes of Fashion Technology. IGNCA’s Nirmala Sharma, an expert on Ragmala and Buddhist paintings, renowned art historian and scholar Saryu Doshi and economist Nitin Desai are also new members. Two relatively unknown names are Bharat Gupta and Viraj Yagnik.
The previous trust was headed by former diplomat Chinmaya R Gharekhan and consisted of art scholar Kapila Vatsyayan, former foreign secretary Salman Haidar, artist A Ramachandran, writer Namita Gokhale, retired bureaucrat Subas Pani, former home secretary G K Pillai, educationist Sukanya Bharatram, danseuse Shovana Narayan, former model and businesswoman Feroze Gujral, hotelier Priya Paul, actor Kulbhushan Kharbanda, scholar of Zoroastrian religion and gallerist Pheroza Godrej, art scholar Sudha Gopalakrishnan and historian Nayanjot Lahiri.