NEW DELHI: Tourism and Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma has been allotted the bungalow of former President APJ Abdul Kalam, a move severely criticised by AAP, which said Centre has "insulted" the late President by not converting his residence into a 'Knowledge Centre'.
Kalam was staying at 10 Rajaji Marg residence in Lutyen's zone after his eventful term as President ended in 2007.
"I have been allocated 10 Rajaji Marg by the Urban Development Ministry and I have accepted the offer," Sharma, who has been staying at his private residence in Sector 15, Noida on Delhi's outskirts, told PTI.
Asked about the demand from friends and supporters of Kalam to convert the Rajaji Marg residence into a memorial, Sharma said, "It is the government's policy not to convert any Lutyen's bungalow into a memorial.
"RLD leader Ajit Singh had also demanded converting the Tughlaq Road residence of his late father Charan Singh into a memorial but the demand was not accepted."
The former President's house has to be vacated by October 31, 2015 and his belongings, which includes numerous books and his Veena, have been shifted out to his home town Rameshwaram in Tamil Nadu.
Criticising Centre for not converting Kalam's residence into a memorial, senior AAP minister Kapil Mishra said, "limiting Dr. Kalam's work to Rameswaram only and shifting all his documents, books and even Veena to Rameswaram is insulting...his residence should not be vacated but should be converted into a Knowledge Centre in the loving memory of the legend."
The Delhi Tourism and Culture Minister also added that "If Central government doesn't have resources and space to build a memorial for Dr.Kalam, let them just hand over all his belongings to Delhi government. Delhi deserves a memorial of Dr.Kalam, he belongs to all of us. His memorial should be in Delhi as well as in Rameshwaram."
Incidentally, Sharma was also in the eye of a storm last month for his remarks that Kalam was a great nationalist "despite being a Muslim".
"I am getting an official accommodation after 11 months. Earlier I was allotted 7 Tyagraj Marg but I could not move there as it was not vacated by the earlier occupant," Sharma said.
The Minister also asserted that the "walls of former President's house" will inspire him to do better.