IF 7 Race Course Road in New Delhi is being readied for the arrival of Narendra Modi, officials and workers are busy sprucing up another house number 7 — in distant Patna. Nitish Kumar has chosen the “modest” 7, Strand Road as his new residence after demitting the chief minister’s office.
Although he could have chosen any government house to match the size of 1, Anne Marg, the sprawling official residence of the Bihar chief minister, Nitish zeroed in on the 7, Strand Road bungalow that is barely one-fourth the size of his current address.
Perhaps, party leaders say, the choice has something to do with the number 7. As chief minister, Nitish preferred to use a vehicle whose registration number ended with 0007.
For the JD(U), the 7, Strand Road house, which is about 700 metres from the chief minister’s residence, may be the new power centre from where the party’s most powerful leader will operate in his new role as “coordinator” between the party and the government. In fact, party MLAs have passed a resolution to this effect in the bargain to let Nitish leave the chief minister’s chair.
The two-storey house has four 20×20 feet rooms with attached bathrooms. There is a small room attached to every room that can be used as store, study or puja room. For the staff, there are eight smaller rooms.
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Although this house was allotted to Bihar Nagrik Parishad deputy chairperson Sanjay Kumar Singh, the last occupant was JD(U) Rajya Sabha MP and trusted Nitish aide, Ram Chandra Prasad Singh, who is said to be one of key persons who had convinced Nitish to part ways with BJP.
More than a dozen workers were busy on the premises on Tuesday. Apart from the necessary repair work and a fresh coat of paint, work was under way on a new exit gate and a concrete road inside the premises. A worker told The Indian Express another gate, also opening to Strand Road, was ready for party workers and visitors.
It was unclear when Nitish would move in. An official, who did not want to be named, said, Nitish may not wait for the renovation to get over. “Nitishji is a man of principle and may not wait for this house to be redone,” he said.
Nitish’s new neighbours will be Minor Irrigation Minister Awadhesh Kushwaha and Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh. Two other ministers, Bhim Singh and Damodar Raut, live bang opposite the house. Former chief minister Lalu Prasad’s residence is a lane away.
Among previous occupants of this house was former Bihar road construction department principal secretary and former Union home secretary R K Singh, who is now the BJP MP from Ara.