The Anne that never was - Merry misspellings mark Bihar's most powerful house

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  • Published 23.11.10
The Bihar chief minister’s official residence

Patna, Nov. 22: Everybody seems to have already figured out the winner of the Bihar elections but few can vouch for the address from where power has been flowing and will continue to do so.

Is it 1 Anne, 1 Aane, 1 Aaney, 1 Aney or 1 Anney Marg?

The Bihar chief minister’s house is located on a road named after the state’s second post-Independence governor, Madhav Shrihari Aney, who held office from January 1948 to June 1952.

But Patna’s most famous address is also its most misspelt, so much so that even those close to its current occupant do not know how to write it.

“We write 1 Anne Marg,” messaged Chanchal Kumar, secretary to the chief minister, in response to The Telegraph’s query weeks ago. Nitish Kumar’s press relations officer, K.K. Upadhya, concurred.

But the public relations officer at Raj Bhavan, L.K. Jha, pointed to the name on the governors’ succession list and said the address should read 1 Aney Marg.

The other spellings in vogue are Aane, Aaney and Anney. Madhav Shrihari has long disappeared from the address that Lalu Prasad had earmarked as the chief minister’s official residence.

Few officials or leaders in Patna are aware that the road adjacent to Raj Bhavan is named after the Maharashtra-born Aney, who succeeded Jairamdas Daulat Ram as governor.

“What is there in a spelling and name? You write Nitish Kumar, chief minister, Bihar, in the address space and the letter will reach 1 Anne Marg,” said a senior leader of the ruling Janata Dal.

With the same certainty, the party has pointed to exit polls that have predicted a sweep for Nitish Kumar when the results are declared this Wednesday, although Lalu Prasad is more than sceptical about such forecasts.

If the exit poll projections are correct and the results signal the beginning of the end of Lalu Prasad, it will be just another day in office for this remarkable house that has seen it all.

Some of the most dramatic moments of Indian politics in the nineties unfolded in the house whose name none seems to be sure of. It became a national focal point during the peak of the fodder scam when Lalu Prasad’s arrest was a certainty and speculation swirled over the fate of the Bihar crown which eventually passed on to Rabri Devi.

The couple lived in the house for over 15 years, famously building cowsheds and stables on the premises that were done away with when Nitish moved in.

The first chief minister to occupy the address was Bhagwat Jha Azad, who lived here from February 1988 to March 1989.

Senior Janata Dal leader Shivanand Tiwary said: “If we take the name of our political and constitutional heads so lightly, we will lose our sense of history. Whatever is the correct spelling, it should be found out and written correctly,” he said.

The government’s website plays it safe, giving Nitish Kumar’s address as “Patna, Bihar”. His permanent address is listed as “Village-Hakikatpur, PO-Bakhtiyarpur, District, Patna”.