Who wouldn’t want to live next to the most famous address in Uttar Pradesh – 5, Kalidas Marg, the residence of the chief minister of India’s most-populous state?
No one, it turns out, spooked by a superstition of ill luck descending on every occupant of the bungalow in the heart of Lucknow.
The buzz in UP’s political and administrative circles is that anyone who occupies 6, Kalidas Marg – whether an IAS officer or a minister -- either ends up in political or official ignominy, a decline in political fortunes, jail, or grave illness.
Preferring not to be named, an estate department officer said: “The house has been ‘branded’ inauspicious. There are no takers for it as of now.”
Because the bungalow has no takers, the estate department has begun thinking of repurposing it--either by demolition and merging it with the 7, Kalidas Marg -- where deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya lives -- or using the building as the security camp for chief minister Yogi Adityanath.
Politicians such as Amar Singh, Babu Singh Kushwahas, Waqar Ahmed Shah, Javed Abdi and officers such as Neera Yadav and Pradeep Shukla lived here before.
The last occupant of the bungalow was Javed Abdi, whom then chief minister Akhilesh Yadav gave a ministerial rank. But within months of moving in, Abdi was sacked from his position as chairman of the UP pollution control board.
Before Abdi, Waqar Ahmad Shah was allotted the residence as a senior minister when Akhilesh Yadav came to power. Shah started living here, but then fell critically ill and went into a coma. He never returned to work since then, and he’s been in hospital for five years.
Before that, right-hand man of then chief minister Mayawati, Babu Singh Kushwahar was living at the bungalow. But towards the end of Mayawati’s tenure, Kushwaha was sent to jail in connection with the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) scam.
Amar Singh too lived in the house as the chairman of the UP Film Development Corporation in Mulayam Singh Yadav’s government. He had to face a brief period in jail in 2011 when he was sent to Tihar Jail in the cash-for-votes scam. After that, Amar’s political career nosedived. But while bad times fell on Abdi, Waqar or Kushwaha while they lived here, Amar vacated the house in 2007, much before he went to jail.
Like Amar Singh, two top bureaucrats too faced on bad times after they vacated this house. One was former UP chief secretary Neera Yadav and the other Pradeep Shukla, then mission director of NRHM in UP. Both were sent to jail by the CBI.