Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Breather for Coffee Home; closure postponed

Intellectually stimulating discussions over steaming cup of coffee will continue at the good old Indian Coffee House at Mohan Singh Place as its closure slated for June 10 has been postponed.

The Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit had issued clear instructions to the chairman of the New Delhi Municipal Committee (NDMC) to postpone the closing down of the Indian Coffee House, which had enjoyed the patronage of Presidents and PMs and had been the Centre of capital's intellectual life and activities, Convener of Coffee consumers' Forum Ram Shastri said today in a press meet organised here.

The Forum, which is fighting against the closure of the Coffee House since 2003, had earlier sent a memorandum to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, AICC chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Delhi Chief Minister Shiela Dikshit, demanding that the Indian Coffee Worker’s Cooperative (ICWC) Society that is running the Coffee House be dissolved and its management taken over by the government.

They have also asked for turning it into a no-profit-and-no-loss body, and to immediately transfer it to the premises of the India Coffee House in Mohan Singh Place in Connaught Place, so that yesteryear's political hub and today's social centre could be saved from the hands of those unscrupulous elements, who want to aqcuire it for commercial purposes.

''To this, Delhi Chief Minsiter has assured us that she would look into the matter and see what could be done,'' Mr Shastri said.

The ICWC Society had decided to close down on grounds of losses.

It had struck a secret deal earlier that led to closure of five coffee houses in Delhi, including that of Kamla Nagar and Filmistan.

Even offices in Mall Road in Shimla and Civil Lines in Allahabad were vacated under a well planned conspiracy, Mr Shastri alleged.

Besides this, the Forum would like to start a campaign to open Coffee Houses in all the 604 districts of the country to create awareness and stimulate intellectual activities in the fields of culture, politics, religion and social issues.

Saying that these Coffee Homes have a special place in history as they had contributed to the freedom struggle in India and had been the centre of political revolution in Britain and France, Dr Krishna Murthy, one of the regular visitors, appealed to the state government to expand the base of coffee homes in the city and make the prices of eatables there more cheaper so that it could maintain its reputation of a social hub.

The Coffee House is known for serving nine PMs (Lal Bahadur Shastri, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, V P Singh, Chandrashekhar, V Narasimha Rao and I K Gujral), two presidents (V V Giri and K R Narayanan) and two vice-presidents (Krishna Kant and Bhairon Singh Skekhawat).

It has been the political nerve centre for many leaders former defence minister V K Krishna Menon, socialist leader Ram Manohar Lohia, former education minister Nurul Hasan, communist leader EMS Namboodripad, former defence minister George Fernandes and former home minister Indrajit Gupta and Mulayum Singh Yadav, former minister Janeshwar Mishra.

Other Coffee House regulars to become Chief Ministers of their states are: Ashok Gehlot, Sheila Dikshit, Nitish Kumar, Shivraj Singh Chauhan, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and Digvijay Singh.

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