Finance Minister Piyush Goyal, who presented his maiden budget Friday, spent his childhood in Mumbai’s Sion.
Mumbai: The old low-rise building with tall wrought iron gates stands unassuming in the usual afternoon quiet of a tree-lined lane in central Mumbai. Union Finance Minister Piyush Goyal has now moved his Mumbai residence to the plush Napean Sea Road in the south, but the roots of his political journey lie in this building, Amber, on plot number 75 in Sion West.
As Goyal, 54, presented his first Union budget Friday, several locals were discussing their former neighbour, recalling the studious boy who used to help his mother with her political campaigns and enjoy a game of gully cricket every now and then.
“The graph of Piyush Goyal’s political growth has been phenomenal,” said Upendra Doshi, a former Congress corporator who still lives in Sion, minutes from Goyal’s childhood residence.
“There is a certain academic maturity in him that has perhaps taken him so far. That, and no doubt, his father’s goodwill,” he added.
“The Goyals had excellent relations with everyone, across party lines. They
are very close to the Deoras too,” added Doshi, referring to the family of the late Congress leader and Union Minister Murli Deora.
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Across party lines
Doshi is a former political rival of Goyal’s mother Chandrakanta Goyal, a three-term BJP MLA. He defeated her in a Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation election in the 1980s before being beaten by her twice in the Maharashtra assembly election.
Goyal’s father Vedprakash Goyal was an active politician too, and served as Union Shipping Minister in the Atal Bihar Vajpayee government and national treasurer for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
“That family was such that, despite our political rivalries, we had excellent personal
relations,” said Doshi. “I have known Piyush Goyal since he was a teenager. He was always very gentle, very well-educated and constantly immersed in academics.
“He used to help his mother with election campaigns here and there, but dived into politics in earnest only after completing his chartered accountancy,” he added.
Other neighbours also testified to the academic acumen of Goyal, who attended the Don Bosco school located nearby in Matunga and HR College in Churchgate.
From Mumbai local to Railway Ministry
While studying law, Goyal was also dabbling in entrepreneurship, trying to set up a factory in Dombivli.
He was a regular commuter on Mumbai’s local trains, which he now oversees as Railway Minister.
Sion’s residents remembered the lane being abuzz as the Goyals hosted high-profile political visitors such as BJP leaders Atal Bihari Vajpayee and L.K. Advani. Vajpayee was, in fact, known to stay with the Goyals whenever he was in Mumbai.
“The VIP movement never seemed like a big inconvenience,” said Charu Shah, who has a house just a few buildings away from the Goyals’. “It was always casual, and the Goyals were warm, polite people. We used to often visit their house,” she added.
“Piyush Goyal was about 10 years my senior and was known in the neighbourhood as a brilliant student. It felt good to see him present the budget today,” Shah said.
Another resident of the lane, a textiles businessman who did not wish to be
named, said Friday’s interim budget was a “very good budget”. In the same breath, he reminisced about playing cricket with “the very learned man” who presented it.
“In western democracies, you often see ministers with domain knowledge
handling portfolios. Piyush Goyal presenting the budget felt like an example of the same in India,” he added.
“He is a chartered accountant, understands micro and macro realities,” the businessman said.