Search for post-retirement home may take Kovind to 12, Janpath

 Construction work in-progress at 12, Janpath in New Delhi on April 29, 2022.

Construction work in-progress at 12, Janpath in New Delhi on April 29, 2022. | Photo Credit: R. V. Moorthy

With over two months to go till the country gets a new President or the incumbent gets a second term, preparations are on for a post-retirement home for President Ram Nath Kovind at 12, Janpath —one of the largest bungalows in Lutyens’ Delhi —should he exit office, sources said.

Renovation works are in full swing at the house, which had been allotted to Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan for over three decades and where his family continued to stay post his death in 2020. In March, the Centre evicted the family after initiating eviction proceedings in January 2021. According to two sources aware of the development, the house is now being readied to welcome Mr. Kovind and his family, though it has not been allotted yet.

The President’s press secretary, Ajay Kumar Singh, did not respond to a request for comment on whether Mr. Kovind would stay in Delhi post-retirement and more specifically at 12, Janpath.

Hub of Lok Janshakti Party

Apart from serving as Paswan’s home for over 30 years, 12, Janpath was also a hub of the Lok Janshakti Party that he founded. In 2004, the house witnessed Congress president Sonia Gandhi walking over from her next-door residence at 10, Janpath to seek Paswan’s support for the United Progressive Alliance to form the government.

As an ex-President, Mr. Kovind would be entitled to the use of a furnished residence, including its maintenance, without paying any licence fee as well as secretarial staff, as per the President’s Emoluments and Pension Act, 1951. His present term ends on July 25, with Presidential elections expected earlier in July. No President since the first, Dr. Rajendra Prasad, has held office for two full terms.

Mr. Kovind took office on July 25, 2017 after spending almost two years as the Governor of Bihar. Originally from Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh, he has been in Delhi for decades, first enrolled as an advocate with the Bar Council of Delhi in 1971, then as an advocate-on-record in the Supreme Court and standing counsel of the Centre in the apex court, and member of the Rajya Sabha from U.P. from 1994 to 2006, according to the official website of the President.

Accomodation controversy

In the past, accommodations for a former President led to some controversy. Pratibha Patil, who was in office from 2007 to 2012, decided not to shift into a new home that was being built for her post-retirement life in Pune after facing criticism for it being located on defence land. She was instead allotted Raigad Bungalow in Pune, where she continues to reside.

Former President Pranab Mukherjee was allotted 10, Rajaji Marg, which was also A.P.J. Abdul Kalam’s post-presidential residence till his death in 2015. The search for a post-retirement residence began 10 months before Mukherjee’s term was to end on July 25, 2017 and the Rajaji Marg house was selected in February of that year, according to a source close to the former President. Mukherjee stayed at the house till his death in 2020. Then Union Minister and Gautam Budh Nagar MP Dr. Mahesh Sharma had been allotted the house after Kalam and was asked to vacate to make way for Mukherjee when his term ended.

( With inputs from Sobhana K. Nair)

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Printable version | Aug 6, 2022 8:22:15 pm |