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A new retreat for President Kovind

Assam CM Sarbananda Sonowal put forth the idea when he met President Ram Nath Kovind on Saturday.

Assam CM Sarbananda Sonowal put forth the idea when he met President Ram Nath Kovind on Saturday.  

President Ram Nath Kovind could have a presidential retreat in the northeast on the lines of Shimla and Hyderabad, if the Centre accepts the Assam government’s suggestion.

“This is in keeping with Prime Minister Modi’s vision for the region that he describes as astalakshmi (eight jewels), and it will promote the spirit of nationalism,” Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal told The Hindu.

Mr. Sonowal brought up the idea when he called on the President on Saturday. Inviting him to visit Assam and other northeastern States, the Chief Minister requested the President to consider having a retreat in the northeastern region.

Mr. Kovind is said to have welcomed the idea and asked the Chief Minister to formally take it up with the Government of India. “We will send the formal proposal very soon and if we get the go-ahead from the Centre, the exact location for the retreat can be identified,” an Assam government official said.

Annual visits

At present, there are two presidential retreats — The Retreat Building in Shimla and Rashtrapati Nilayam in Hyderabad — where the President moves in, at least once a year, and is seen as an extension of Rashtrapati Bhavan.

“The location of ‘The Retreat Building’ in Shimla and the ‘Rashtrapati Nilayam’ in Hyderabad are indicative of the integrative role of the Office of the President of India in our country. These locations, one in north and another in south, symbolise unity of our country and unity of our diverse cultures and people,” the Rashtrapati Bhavan website says.

From the Viceroy

The Retreat Building in Mashobra on the outskirts of Shimla is a 167-year-old wooden building that was taken over by the Viceroy of India in 1895. During the summer months, the President and his office can work from here for two to three weeks.

Similarly, Hyderabad’s Rashtrapati Nilayam, a property of the erstwhile Nizam of Hyderabad spread over 90 acres, is used by the President during the winter for two-three weeks. But how long the President stays in these retreats depends on the incumbent. “Pranab Mukherjee never stayed in Shimla for over a week,” said a Rashtrapati Bhavan official.

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Printable version | Aug 7, 2020 4:18:17 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/a-new-retreat-for-president-kovind/article19446666.ece

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