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Witness to country’s historical past

The Jantar Mantar Road is synonymous with demonstrations today. But how many visitors are aware of the colonial-era buildings in the area that were witnesses to several historic decisions? Nivedita Khandekar writes.

delhi Updated: Jul 14, 2013 00:03 IST
Nivedita Khandekar

The Jantar Mantar Road is synonymous with demonstrations today. But how many visitors are aware of the colonial-era buildings in the area that were witnesses to several historic decisions ?

Originally a residence, the 1920s-built ‘Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel Smarak Trust’ building at 7, Jantar Mantar Marg, became the All India Congress Committee headquarters after Independence when the first prime minister Jawahar Lal Nehru shifted the party office from Allahabad.

Journalist Rasheed Kidwai’s book ‘24, Akbar Road’ has elaborately described the transition that 7 Jantar Mantar witnessed. It was here that Nehru declared he would like his daughter Indira Gandhi to take over the party.

It was here that Gandhi, when she became the Prime Minister, first broached the subjects of abolition of privy purses to the erstwhile royal families and nationalisation of 14 leading banks at CWC meetings.

Kidwai has also described how, after the 1969 split, Morarji Desai, who later merged the Congress Organisation with Janata Party in 1977, and became prime minister, formed the Patel Trust and took control of the building.

Several physical alterations to the building are symbolic of the offices that have changed. It now houses the offices of Janta Dal (United), Akhil Bhartiya Seva Dal, All India Freedom Fighters Office and other sundry offices.