The 10 Rajaji Marg in Lutyens’ Delhi, which was earlier occupied by late President A P J Abdul Kalam, is set to house President Pranab Mukherjee after his term ends in July this year.
Union Tourism and Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma, the current occupant, confirmed that he has been asked to vacate the duplex bungalow. “I was asked by the Prime Minister’s Office a few days ago if I had any objection to my house being allotted to Pranab da. I offered to vacate it since I hardly use it,” he said.
While Sharma, who is the MP from Gautam Budh Nagar, lives in Sector 15, Noida, he uses his official bungalow during the day for meetings. Some of his personal staff also operate from there. According to sources, the minister is likely to vacate the bungalow in April, after the Uttar Pradesh elections, as he is busy with the poll campaign. Sources close to him said he has asked for a Type-VIII bungalow in return.
The 10 Rajaji Marg quarters is spread over an area of 11,776 sq feet, with the ground floor housing a library and an attached reading space. Mukherjee is reported to have expressed a desire to have “a house with a good reading and writing space”.
Earlier, the government had finalised Bungalow No. 34 on Dr A P J Abdul Kalam Road (earlier Aurangzeb Road), which housed late Lok Sabha Speaker P A Sangma, for Mukherjee. Although a Type-VIII property, the bungalow, currently occupied by Sangma’s family, is a single-storeyed structure.
Kalam occupied 10 Rajaji Marg till his death in 2015, after which it was allotted to Sharma. The allotment had evoked strong reactions from some quarters following Sharma’s reported remarks that Kalam was “a nationalist despite being a Muslim”. There were demands that the house should be converted into a memorial for Kalam.
According to the President’s Pension Rules 1962, “a retired President shall be entitled without payment of rent to the use of a furnished residence anywhere in India at the choice of the retired President, without payment of water and electricity charges for the remainder of his life.”
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