Sunday, May 18, 2003, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Naggar to have school of art
PM announces Rs 1 crore for gallery
Our Correspondent

Manali, May 17
Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee, today announced that an International School of art would be set up at Naggar village in the memory of Nicholas Roerich, noted Russian artist and philosopher who made this hamlet his permanent abode.

Mr Vajpayee made this announcement during his visit to the Roerich art gallery at Naggar, near here. Appreciating the works of the master painter he said Roerich symbolised rare synthesis of culture, art and spirituality, which lent a unique charm to his works.

He expressed satisfaction over the work carried out so far to improve and expand the gallery and announced Rs 1 crore grant for the project.

He was taken around the gallery by curator Dr Irena and the caretaker Ms Ursulla.

Mr Vajpayee had given Rs 1 crore for the gallery on his earlier visit too.

When asked by newsmen whether he could find time to write poetry during retreat, he in a lighter vein said that he was able to pen only one line “panch baras beet gaye”.

Mr Vajpayee also visited the ancient temple of Jagati Patt in the Naggar Castle and paid obeisance there. Mr Maheshwar Singh, a BJP MP, welcomed him.

Later, Mr Vajpayee interacted with the leaders of the state BJP which had hosted a lunch in his honour at the castle. While all BJP legislators and party office-bearers were present at the lunch, Mr Shanta Kumar, a senior party leader, who recently resigned from the union cabinet, was not there.

According to party sources Mr Vajpayee advised partymen to sink differences and work for the next Lok Sabha poll. He said there was no need to be disheartened over the defeat in the Assembly poll held recently.

Mr P.K. Dhumal, a former Himachal Chief Minister, later told newsmen that his party urged the Prime Minister to give maximum aid to the state. He said he had requested Mr Vajpayee to ensure that size of the annual plan was maintained and the state allowed to impose generation tax to raise resources. He said he also pleaded that Shimla be given due in the BBMB projects.

Mr Dhumal said that Mr Vajpayee gave liberal assistance to the state.

PTI adds: Mr Vajpayee had some lighter moments as he played with a three-year-old child of the caretaker of the art gallery and shared jokes with its old woman manager Ursulla of Russia amidst mild drizzle.

He told reporters after visiting the gallery that the beautiful Himachal lacked an institution of art where youngsters could learn painting, music and drama.

Praising on Nicholai Roerich, who made Manali his home for two decades from 1928, Mr Vajpayee said “he was the world’s greatest artist. He was a confluence of art, culture and tradition.”

Earlier, when received at the gate of the gallery by Ursulla, believed to be in her seventies, Mr Vajpayee caught hold of her hand, shared some jokes and laughed all the way to the museum.

Journalists covering the Prime Minister’s visit faced inconvenience due to barricades put up by the police at various places. The road to Naggar was closed to traffic for more than an hour before Mr Vajpayee was scheduled to pass through it. Many journalists could not make it up to Naggar due to this. Many vehicles carrying tourists lined up on both sides of the road due to blockade. The Himachal Journalists Forum has condemned callous attitude of the public relations officer and mismanagement by the administration for harassing mediapersons.

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