TNN | Dec 29, 2011, 03.20AM IST
KOLKATA: For years, Indira Bhavan was associated with the name of Bengal's former chief minister Jyoti Basu. Not any longer. Indira Bhavan, the sprawling Salt Lake bungalow where former chief minister Jyoti Basu lived for two decades till his death, will now be called Nazrul Bhavan.
Chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday announced at Writers' Buildings that Basu's belongings had been cleared from the building (by his party, the CPM), and that it would be turned into a museum and research centre on poet, museum and revolutionary Kazi Nazrul Islam. The building will house primarily the poet's memorabilia, his books and research on the poet's works. The project on Kazi Nazrul was announced earlier, but it was not known where the research centre and museum on Kazi Nazrul Islam would be housed.
Indira Bhavan was built in 1972 primarily to serve as a guest house for then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi for her visits to the city. Later, the Left Front government decided to allot Indira Bhavan for Basu to live in and he had moved into the bungalow in August 1989. Since then, he continued to live there till his death in 2010.
All Basu memorabilia, including a wax statue of the state's former chief minister, are in the process of being taken to the CPM headquarters on Alimuddin Street. The process of handing over the property to the state government is expected to be completed by December 31. The property will then be under the state urban development department. Since 2000, Alimuddin Street used to pay about Rs 8,880 per month to the state urban development department as rent for Indira Bhavan and rent for the bungalow had been paid in advance till December 2011.
Officials say that CPM leaders at Alimuddin Street themselves wanted to hand over Indira Bhavan to the state government and take Basu's belongings to their office headquarters. There were proposals immediately after Basu's death that Indira Bhavan could be turned into a museum on Basu - a plan discussed by the former Left Front government - but that plan was dropped later.
The state government had spent a whopping Rs 30 lakh per year on salaries of those employed at Indira Bhavan, Basu's Z-plus security and the building's annual maintenance. Now of course, several places in the building have to be repaired before the Nazrul Bhavan can begin to function, said an official.
Leader of Opposition, Surjya Kanta Mishra, was not available for comment on Wednesday, but two days ago he had said that some of Basu's belongings had already been shifted from Indira Bhavan.