BENGALURU: There appears to be a change of plan on setting up the Constitution Club in the historic Balabrooie guesthouse. The battle between legislators and civil society over Balabrooie is likely to end with the latter claiming victory, at least in this round.
While legislators could push for the earlier plan, the government is likely to announce a change in location shortly. It may be recalled that civil society groups had opposed the plan to set up the club in Balabrooie.
The issue came up after an activist advocate sent a legal notice to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and Chief Secretary Vandita Sharma, asking how such a valuable asset could be given to a society consisting of legislators.
Civil society members had earlier agitated, saying it is a heritage site. Others had asked how legislators can be allowed to play cards or have a drink in a hallowed location where national heroes like Rabindranath Tagore, Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru had stayed. Citizens had suggested that the ministerial quarters beside the Seven Ministers’ Quarters, which were not occupied, could be used as a club.
The government is seriously rethinking its plan, and considering a parcel of land where a spacious facility can be built. Some have suggested they it could look at Chitrakala Parishad, which has a few acres in the heart of the city, considering the entire facility is sought to be shifted to a larger campus in Kengeri, off Mysuru Road, which has good Metro connectivity.
Sources said during a meeting, minister H K Patil and Council chairman Basavaraj Horatti had opposed the idea of setting up the club at Balabrooie, saying it is a place where national heroes have stayed. It needs to be respected, and cannot be used for casual purposes like a club, they said. There is also a practical reason: trees cannot be cut on the Balabrooie property, nor can any changes be made to the heritage structure.
Sources said MLAs and MLCs had planned to create a society to manage the club at Balabrooie, which has about three acres of land worth about Rs 800 crore. Besides Gandhi, Nehru and Tagore, many other VVIPs had stayed here in the past 100-plus years. It was also the last known residence of the legendary CM Devaraj Urs.