Central Public Works Department (CPWD) engineers have reason to cheer as Narendra Modi is set to enter the Prime Minister's house on Race Course Road. Not because they have learned from their colleagues in Ahmedabad about his modest lifestyle, but because Modi is a bachelor and there will be no wife to harass the officers.
Most CPWD officers say that while the Prime Minister and the ministers are usually too busy to complain about small things, their wives have all the time to themselves. "This time, we are hoping that doing up the house will not be difficult and there will be fewer demands," said a Urban Development Department official.
The officers are of the view that women become very choosy about the furniture, drapes and the interiors. "They create a lot of fuss and are demanding about a lot of things. Since things are available to them for no cost, they just want anything and everything in the house," said an official in the Ministry of Urban Development.
The department, however, is all praise for Gursharan Kaur, wife of outgoing PM Manmohan Singh. They say she is not only sober in dealing with the staff, but also ensured that rules were never flaunted. "She had instructed us that if she asked for anything to which the PM was not entitled to, she should be informed and that those works be stopped," said the officer.
For the department, dealing with Kamla Advani, wife of former deputy Prime Minister LK Advani, and Heminder Singh, wife of former Union minister Natwar Singh, has been a trying experience. Blossom Fernandes, wife of Congress minister Oscar Fernandes, had also proven to be a difficult person to deal with for the department. "But there are some very decent ones too. Besides Kaur, wives of Kamal Nath and Kapil Sibal were very good. They ensured that our people worked comfortably and treated them well," said the officer.
Outgoing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will continue to live in Bungalow number 3 on Race Course Road till May 26. After his swearing-in, Modi is expected to move to 5 Race Course Road, which is a guest house. Until Friday, no representative of the Prime Minister-designate had approached the Urban Development Ministry with a list of changes to be made.