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Priyanka's Lucknow bungalow has deep links to Nehru

By Virendra Singh Rawat
July 21, 2020 08:30 IST
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The renovation of the property is underway, encompassing painting of walls, cleaning, and other necessary repairs befitting the new entrant’s stature and requirements.

The bungalow, spread over about 1.5 acres, belongs to the family of veteran Congress leader the late Sheila Kaul, who was the sister-in-law of India's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru. 

Virendra Singh Rawat reports. 

A nondescript bungalow in the posh Gokhale Marg enclave in Lucknow is touted to become the permanent address of Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who was recently served an eviction notice by the Centre to vacate her 35, Lodhi Estate house in New Delhi.

The renovation of the property is underway, encompassing painting of walls, cleaning, and other necessary repairs befitting the new entrant’s stature and requirements.

IMAGE: The bungalow in Lucknow belongs to the family of veteran Congress leader, the late Sheila Kaul, sister-in-law of India's first prime minister and Priyanka's great grandfather, Jawaharlal Nehru. Photograph: ANI Photo.

The bungalow, spread over about 1.5 acres, belongs to the family of veteran Congress leader late Sheila Kaul, who was the sister-in-law of India's first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru.

Kaul, a five-time MP who died in 2015 at the age of 100, had served as Union minister and also Himachal Pradesh governor.

The bungalow has hosted Vadra several times during her visits to the Uttar Pradesh capital after being anointed the Congress's state unit in charge by her brother and former party president Rahul Gandhi last year.

IMAGE: A plaque in the bungalow compound announces that Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru had planted this mango tree on one of his visits to the Kaul house in Lucknow. Photograph: ANI Photo.

The bungalow is nearly 3 km from the UP Congress Committee headquarters. In fact, the Vidhan Sabha precincts as also Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's official residence at 5, Kalidas Marg are still closer.

 

Kaul was the wife of Nehru's brother-in-law and renowned botanist Kailash Nath Kaul, a connection that fetched her important positions in the grand old party.

Old-timers claim even Nehru had stayed at the bungalow and planted a banyan tree in 1936.

The bungalow also served as a vital political centre in the pre-independence era, making it a living specimen of the country's freedom movement.

While the property had been witnessing a steady renovation and sprucing up exercise over the past few months, civil works have gained momentum and magnitude after Vadra was served the eviction notice by the Union housing and urban affairs ministry.

She has to vacate the Lodhi Estate residence by August 1.

IMAGE: The bungalow is nearly 3 km from the UP Congress Committee headquarters. Photograph: ANI Photo.

State Congress functionaries have claimed that the decision of Vadra making the Lucknow bungalow her permanent pad predated the eviction notice.

Vadra was asked to vacate the New Delhi bungalow following the withdrawal of her Special Protection Group (SPG) cover.

Deepak Singh, a Congress MLC who belongs to the party's pocket borough of Rae Bareli, has been tasked with overseeing the renovation according to the needs and likes of Vadra.

"So far, the painting of walls and other renovations have been carried out in the bungalow. Now, we are planting more saplings and manicuring the lawns, since Priyankaji is fond of plants and greenery," Singh said.

He said most of the work had already been completed and now they were awaiting the arrival of furniture and other belongings of Vadra.

According to sources, there are about 10 spacious rooms in the bungalow, apart from separate space for conducting official work and accommodating support and security staff.

Since the Kaul family does not live in the Lucknow bungalow, the property was in urgent need of repair works and renovation.

"This bungalow will become the new permanent address of Priyankaji," Singh observed, expressing some concern on the security aspect once she starts living there.

He indicated the exigent need of further raising the compound walls considering the property is located in a thickly populated residential area with apartments all around.

IMAGE: There are about 10 spacious rooms in the bungalow, apart from separate space for conducting official work and accommodating support and security staff. Photograph: ANI Photo.

The state unit of the party is hopeful that now she will devote more time to UP and revive the party to take on the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and expose its failings on various fronts, including law and order, and socioeconomic issues.

Until now, Vadra used to come down to Lucknow from Delhi for holding party meetings or visiting various districts, and later return to the national capital.

This format is expected to change with Vadra, who is the newest member of the Nehru-Gandhi family to enter active politics, getting more time for rejuvenating the UP unit, and leading it from the front beyond her occasional Twitter posts.

"The bungalow belongs to the family of Priyanka Gandhi and now she will also live there. She is in charge of the state unit of the party and this development will further strengthen the organisation," Congress leader Zishan Haider observed.

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Virendra Singh Rawat in Lucknow
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