The constant gardener

Updated on Aug 16, 2007 12:16 AM IST

President Pratibha Patil’s husband, Devisingh Ransingh Shekhawat, has evinced keen interest in tending the fabled Mughal Gardens at Rashtrapati Bhawan.

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So India is to have its very own First Gardener. President Pratibha Patil’s husband, Devisingh Ransingh Shekhawat, has evinced keen interest in tending the fabled Mughal Gardens at Rashtrapati Bhawan. This is in the fitness of things in more ways than one, considering Mr Shekhawat is a qualified scientist with a doctorate in botany. Indeed, his wish to potter around the Mughal Gardens is apparently in line with the austere habits of someone who used to be only an occasional guest even at Ms Patil’s official residence in Jaipur, when she was Rajasthan’s governor.

So the family shifting to Raisina Hill seems to have made little difference to Mr Shekhawat who has made it clear that he would only stay “off and on” at the Rashtrapati Bhawan, and would rather stay at his family residence in Amravati, Maharashtra. Which makes it likely that we will see less of our First Citizen at state banquets than in the splendid Mughal Gardens. The fondness of most former occupants of Rashtrapati Bhawan for the gardens was usually confined to an evening stroll there.

It may not be easy for anyone to match the famous charisma of APJ Abdul Kalam who raised the iron curtain of formality and ritual that lay thickly over the Rashtrapati Bhawan and its gardens. But Mr Shekhawat’s obvious preference for the pavilions, terraces, water channels, and tree groves around the palatial mansion suggests the Mughal Gardens are in excellent hands.

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