Former Uttarakhand chief minister Harish Rawat never moved into the CM’s official residence on Cantt road in the city till he was forced to demit office in the wake of the imposition of President’s rule in the state, fuelling speculation that the house was jinxed.
It is commonly believed that any chief minister who moves into this imposing villa will not complete his term. So, it is rumoured that an ‘apprehensive’ Rawat preferred to stay at Bijapur guest house since he took over as chief minister a little over two years ago. Ironically, he failed to complete his term despite this precaution.
During Rawat’s tenure, the CM’s official residence with about 60 rooms was used for official functions only. Located in a sprawling 10-acre area with lush lawns adding to its earthy beauty, this imposing mansion was built at a cost of about Rs 16 crore. Tucked away from the hustle-bustle of the capital city, the chief minister’s residence located in a leafy corner is based on the state’s typical pahari style of architecture, which reflects in its immense earthy aesthetic appeal.
There is an interesting story on how it came to be known as a “jinxed” house. This mansion was built after dismantling an Irrigation department guesthouse. The state’s first elected chief minister Narain Dutt Tiwari took up residence in that hostel after the Congress party won the 2002 assembly elections. Incidentally, these were the first assembly elections in the state after it came into being in 2000.
In fact, Tiwari is credited with visualising the CM’s official residence project and supervising its construction. However, when it was nearing completion the Bhartiya Janata Party replaced the Congress in the 2007 assembly elections. So, the new man in, Bhuvan Chandra Khanduri first took up residence in the annexe of the CM’s official residence.
But as luck would have it, the Major Gen (retired) could not complete his term. About two years after he took over as the chief minister, Khanduri was replaced with another BJP leader Ramesh Pokhariyal Nishank, thanks to the power tussle dogging the saffron party’s state unit.
The new CM too moved in the official residence meant for him but could stay there hardly for two years before he was again replaced by predecessor (Khaduri) in 2011. Khanduri, who remained in power for the next one year, chose to stay in his Yamuna colony residence. The BJP veteran choosing not to move in the CM’s official residence this time lent credence to the rumours about the latter being a “jinxed” house.
These rumours got further traction when Congress leader Vijay Bahuguna moved in the CM’s official residence after the 2012 assembly elections but got replaced with Harish Rawat just two years later.
The building finally got its tag of a “jinxed” house when the Congress veteran (Rawat) chose to stay at Bijapur guesthouse. Those close to Rawat, though deny that the fear of losing the top job prevented him from staying at the CM’s official residence. “Rawatji chose not to move in that plush bungalow because of superstition. It was a part of the austerity measures he initiated as the chief minister”, M D Joshi, chief spokesperson of the state Congress said. Rawat is on record saying that he is too humble a person to live in such a palatial bungalow. “Work is on to develop it as a tourist attraction”, he recently said.
Ravindra Dube, an aide of Khanduri clarified that latter chose not to move in the CM’s official bungalow during his second tenure due to time constraint. “Khanduriji chose not to shift to the CM’s official residence because there were hardly six months left for the 2012 assembly polls”, he told HT.