“Will the spirit of the ‘Mahatma’ be safe in the hands of Venkaiah Naidu?”

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Harish Khare in The Tribune:

“On August 5, an election was held to decide the new occupant of 6 Maulana Azad Road in New Delhi. This house is the designated residence for the Vice-President of India. The great scholar, freedom fighter, and educationist, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad lived at this address from 1947 till his death in 1958. Till then, the street was called King Edward Road. After the Maulana’s departure, it came to be known as Maulana Azad Road.

Hamid Ansari has lived in this modest but elegant residence for the longest time — 10 years. That is not surprising because he is only the second person in our history to have served two terms as Vice-President. The first one, Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, lived a part of his tenures at York Road (now Moti Lal Nehru Road).

“6 Maulana Azad has had an interesting procession of occupants, and each one of them probably left an imprint on it.

“Curiously, there was a mosque in the premises, and then a temple got added. But perhaps the most significant addition that got made was during the stay of K.R. Narayanan.

“Soon after that horrible day, December 6, 1992, when our very constitutional order came under severe assault, Vice-President Narayanan bought two paintings, both of the Mahatma. The paintings show the Mahatma in a pensive mood, and each lends a certain spiritual charm to the surroundings.

“One of the paintings that Narayanan bought hangs in the Chairman’s office in the Parliament House, and the other adorns the wall above the mantle-piece in the drawing room at 6, Maulana Road. None of Narayanan’s successors felt the need to tinker with the arrangement.

“It would be interesting to know if Hamid Ansari’s successor has different thoughts and ideas and whether the Mahatma retains his place at the Vice-President’s residence.”

Read the full article: At 6, Maulana Azad Road

Photograph: courtesy Reuters