The famous Nehru Bhawan located on the Mall Avenue in Lucknow which has been Congress’ state headquarters for over three decades now has a new claimant. A local businessman has recently laid claim to Congress’ official building stating that as per a 1961 sale deed, the around 80,000-square feet property was registered in the name of his forefathers, who had migrated to India from Pakistan during partition. Further responding to his claim, the Lucknow Municipal Corporation on Tuesday asked the Sonia Gandhi-led party to submit documents to prove its ownership. The department has reportedly sent the notice in the name of Mohsina Kidwai, who was the state Congress president in 1979 when the party office was inaugurated.
Towards the end of July, the businessman Manish Agarwal had submitted an application to the Lucknow Municipal Corporation claiming that his grandfather had bought the property during an auction in 1961. Manish has also submitted the copy of the sale deed and tax assessment records for 1970 and 1986. The report further says that Agarwal claimed that since the property was in his grandfather’s name, the names of his heirs should be included in the records. He has also sought clarification on how the names of Congress leaders have appeared in the records.
Speaking about the same Kidwai told Indian Express that the party had purchased the property at an auction in January 1979. “Most of them are not alive today… but I remember everything. The auction took place in front of me, and we purchased the property. The then owners of the property had sugar mills, which had dues, following which the revenue department conducted the auction,” said Kidwai. “There is no ownership dispute… everything will be there in government records. I don’t know on what basis they have served this notice,” said Kidwai. A plaque outside the building states that then AICC president late Indira Gandhi inaugurated the party office in 1979.
When approached to the Lucknow Municipal Corporation, a Zonal Officer, said, “After Manish Agarwal submitted his documents making a claim over the property, we held several discussions with Congress office-bearers. But they only gave us verbal information and did not submit any proof. So we were forced to served them a notice.”