The Bharatiya Janata Party's Mumbai unit has urged Union Home Minister Amit Shah to convert the historic 'Jinnah House' in Mumbai into a South Asia Centre for Arts & Culture (SACAC), a BJP leader said here on Wednesday.
BJP city chief M.P. Lodha called on Shah in New Delhi and submitted a memorandum on the demand as part of the Centre's plans to auction 9,280 evacuee properties belonging to people who opted to settle in Pakistan post-Partition in 1947.
"I met Amit Shah ji and requested him to convert the Jinnah House into an SACAC, as was decided in 2017, and there is a board put up there to this effect," Lodha said.
The Centre had handed over the Jinnah House to the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) a few years ago.
The historic Jinnah House, located at Malabar Hill, was once the Mumbai home of barrister-cum-politician Mohammed Ali Jinnah, who founded Pakistan, became its first Governor-General and is revered as the 'Quaid-e-Azam' by the neighbouring country.
After Jinnah left India, as per historical records, he wanted his erstwhile house to be hired out to a small European family or to a refined Indian prince with an expected rent of Rs 3,000 per month.
He had conveyed his wishes to the then Bombay Province Governor Sri Prakasa, who was deputed by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, seeking to know what the Pakistani leader wanted to do with his former property after Partition.
However, post-Independence, the Jinnah House, along with thousands of others in the country, was stamped as an 'Evacuee Property', and was leased out to the British Deputy High Commissioner between 1955-1982.
Since then, the Jinnah House is lying vacant and awaiting a new occupant for the past four decades.
Incidentally, when the then Pakistan President General Pervez Musharraf visited India for the Agra Summit in 2001, he had proposed to then Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee to hand it over for use as Pakistan's Consulate in Mumbai, but nothing moved in this direction.
Lodha has been pursuing the matter with the Centre for many years for a final decision on the Jinnah House, built in 1936 on a prime chunk of 2.50 acres, while Jinnah's former home on New Delhi's APJ Abdul Kalam Road has been leased out to a foreign embassy.
The Jinnah House was linked with several momentous events in the history of India's Independence. It was the venue for the critical talks on India's Partition in September 1944 between Mahatma Gandhi and Jinnah, and in August 1946, Jinnah held another round of talks here with Nehru.