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Culture ministry takes Sangh cue

New Delhi, May 22: The new government is yet to take over, but its culture wing is already on the job.

Bureaucrats in the culture ministry are scrambling to draw up a blueprint for celebrating the birth centenary of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh pracharak and Jan Sangh founder Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyaya in 2015-16.

Officials said they were not surprised as those set to rule the country for the next five years had already indicated that honouring and propagating the ideologies of leaders of the Jan Sangh, the BJP’s forerunner, would be one of the priorities of the Narendra Modi government.

Earlier this week Modi, while addressing party members, had said 2015-16 was important to the BJP because it marked Upadhyaya’s birth centenary year.

Crediting the Jan Sangh leader with propagating the idea of Antyodaya — service for the downtrodden — Modi had indicated that grand celebrations were in the offing.

Some officials pointed out that the Jan Sangh leader’s idea of service to the poor was a take-off from Mahatma Gandhi’s famous advice: “Recall the face of the poorest and weakest man you have seen and ask yourself if this step you contemplate is going to be of any use to him.”

But no one was taking the Prime Minister-designate’s dictum lightly. So hurried meetings are taking place in the ministry to chalk out a plan of action.

Senior ministry officials said that while it was the prerogative of the Prime Minister or a committee appointed by the Prime Minister to decide on such celebrations, never had such preparations started without a Prime Minister or a minister officially in charge.

Sources said these celebrations wouldn’t just mark Modi’s first step towards beginning an era of “cultural nationalism”, but also the entry of the BJP’s Art and Culture Cell into the government machinery.

The cell, formed in 1998 to promote the party’s philosophy, could now play a bigger role in various cultural institutions across the country, the sources said.

Bharatiya sanskriti ka pravah barkarar rakhna sabse zaroori hai (it is essential to maintain Indian culture). We believe in inclusive culture, we give everyone respect, but we won’t tolerate any insult. We will work with the ministry closely and since we have come to power with a historic mandate, it is natural that we will spread our ideology through the government,” Gajender Solanki, the cell’s co-convener, said.

Films appeared to be another area of interest.

Shortly after the BJP’s victory, the cell’s convener, Mithilesh Kumar Tripathi, had said the unit was keen to develop “movies that are rich in cultural values and have a strong flavour of Indian traditions”.

“Many movies are released every week, but they are hardly able to portray Indian art and culture. Our attempt will be to showcase Indian social values through movies,” he had said.