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House for Citizen Patil

New Delhi, July 24: Pranab Mukherjee will not head straight to Raisina Hill after taking oath tomorrow. Before that he will, according to norms, have to take outgoing President Pratibha Patil to her new residence.

Patil has settled for a bungalow in the heart of Lutyens’ Delhi after initially mulling a post-retirement house in Pune. There were protests against the proposal because the plot, which belonged to the defence ministry, had been earmarked for war widows.

At 2 Tughlaq Lane, Patil will have as neighbours Congress leader Rahul Gandhi and Union ministers Veerappa Moily and Krishna Tirath. The bungalow allotted to —and declined by — Sachin Tendulkar is also in the same row.

Although Patil has been allotted a Type-8 bungalow that cabinet ministers are entitled to, it is much smaller than others in this category. It has three bedrooms and a 1.25-acre garden. When The Telegraph visited the house, work was still going on.

The bungalow had earlier been allotted to former home secretary G.K. Pillai and his wife, Planning Commission secretary Sudha Pillai.

Patil dropped by the bungalow on Friday, inspected it and did a puja. The furnishing and furniture — she is entitled to a combined worth of Rs 2.5 lakh — were picked up by Central Public Works Department (CPWD) staff.

“The President did not indicate any preference to colour or type of furnishing. She was happy with what she was provided with,” a CPWD official said.

As a rule, former Presidents are given an official bungalow in Delhi on a par with those allotted to cabinet ministers. Their spouses can continue living in it after their death. It is taken back by the government only after both have passed away.

As of now, the widows of former President Shankar Dayal Sharma and former Vice-President Krishna Kant are living in official bungalows. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam has an official bungalow at 10 Rajaji Marg.

Former President Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed’s wife continued to live at 19 Akbar Road after his death. The house was later allotted to his son, a Supreme Court judge.

“Former Presidents and their spouses are not given official accommodation anywhere in the world. It is only here that they get a house for a lifetime,” a CPWD official said.

In the UK, a former Prime Minister is virtually on his own after leaving 10 Downing Street. A former US President gets pension and allowances but a bungalow is not part of the deal.