The most charmed House and other tales
A lot has been written about jinxed houses in the Capital. But not many people know that there is a bungalow in Lutyen’s Delhi where three Prime Ministers have stayed. Yes I am referring to 9, Motilal Nehru Place (earlier 9, Yorks Place), at present the official residence of Chief Election Commissioner Navin Chawla.
The bungalow was the residence of Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in the forties and when he was sworn in as the Prime Minister of the interim government for the first time. Panditji later shifted to Teen Murti House, which was the official house of the Chief of Army Staff during the British regime. Number 9, Moti Lal Nehru Place was the residence of P.V.Narasimha Rao for many years while he was a Cabinet Minister both with Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi. After Rajiv was assassinated, Rao was elected by the Congress Parliamentary Party to become the Prime Minister while he was still staying there. He later moved to the Race Course Road.
Inder Kumar Gujaral as a Minister in Indira Gandhi’s government also lived there. He went on to subsequently become the Prime Minister of India in April, 1997.
According to many Vaastu experts, the house has the best and most suitable design. Its main entry doors face in the North East direction. In fact, the official Prime Minister’s residence on RCR was also designed in a similar manner keeping in view the direction element.
Delhi of course has many historic houses, some of which have been demolished to make way for government buildings. It is also a coincidence that M.S.Gill, now the Sports minister and a former CEC himself stays at 12, Willingdon Crescent (Now Mother Teresa Crescent). Indira Gandhi occupied the house when she was in opposition following the Janata Party victory in 1977. It was from here that she and her son, Sanjay led the fightback for the Congress and eventually returned to power in 1980 in the aftermath of Parliamentary polls. The house if I recall correctly was officially allotted to Sanjay when he made his Lok Sabha debut from Amethi in the same year.
The jinxed houses in the city include 33, Shamnath Marg, once the office of Delhi’s Municipal Commissioners. Not many people who lived there have thrived. Senior BJP leader Madan Lal Khurana made it his home when he was elected Delhi’s Chief Minister in 1993. He quit his position in February, 1996 in the wake of the Hawala scam even though his own name did not figure in any list. He has had a patchy political life after that. His successor Sahib Singh Verma never shifted to this house, which was made the Delhi Government’s Guest House for some years before Deep Chand Bandhu, a minister in Sheila Dikshit government decided to move in. Bandhu died as a minister and the House continues to be treated as inauspicious by many bureaucrats and politicians.
The number 10, Janpath also has a strange history. The house has claimed many casualties. After he ceased to be the Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi moved into the house and was assassinated within 18 months. His widow and Congress president Sonia Gandhi continues to live there. It is said that since the house has already claimed a victim, its negative influence stands countered.
Ten Janpath was the office of the Indian Youth Congress during the emergency when Ambika Soni was its president and Sanjay Gandhi, a National Council member. The IYC was virtually wound up within 18 months from there and had to be resuscitated back subsequently after its ejection in 1977. The story is that even the Press Council of India had its office for 18 months and it had to move out. K.K.Tewari, a senior Congress leader who stayed there and moved out after Rajiv was allotted the house is in political wilderness.
Lal Bahadur Shastri as the Prime Minister also lived in the complex whose part the present 10, Janpath was. He died within 18 months of being in office.
There are many dates which too appear to have a linkage to India’s history. For instance, June 23 was the day when in 1980 Sanjay Gandhi died in the crash of his Pitts 2 aircraft. On the same day, in 1985, the Air India 747 plane named Kanishka on a flight from Canada was blown up in mid air by militants who had placed a bomb. June 23, 1953 is also the date on which the Bharatiya Jana Sangh Founder Shyama Prasad Mukherjee died. Similarly, Indira Gandhi was assassinated on October 31 which also happens to be the birth anniversary of Sardar Patel.
Three Indian Prime Ministers—Pandit Nehru, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi died shortly after they visited Orissa. A strange coincidence. I do not know whether one should believe in these kinds of things but there are too many coincidences, which have happened reinforcing beliefs in superstitions and omens. One is better off not believing them.