Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal on Tuesday said former leader of opposition Rajinder Kaur Bhattal could not occupy the official residence in Sector 2, as she was no longer holding any constitutional post.
Asserting that the house was earmarked for the leader of opposition and she was not any more leader of opposition, Sukhbir said she had to vacate the house, and the government had served a notice on her in this regard. On the threat perception, he said, “On security basis, one cannot retain the house.’’
Slamming the Congress, he said, “During our government from 1997 to 2002, we had made a provision for the former chief ministers to be allotted an official house. Thus, former chief ministers Harcharan Singh Brar and Rajinder Kaur Bhattal retained their houses. But when the Congress came to power in 2002, it withdrew this facility. She should blame her party rather than us. It is their own party problem.’’
However sources close to Bhattal say that when Sukhbir was the union minister he was allotted a minister’s house in Delhi. But even when he was not a minister, he did not vacate his Delhi residence and got that house allotted to his wife Harsimrat Kaur Badal when she became an MP from Bathinda. Similarly, Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, another senior Akali Dal leader, did not vacate his official residence in Delhi after he lost his Lok Sabha elections and continued living there. When he was nominated to Rajya Sabha as an MP, he got that house re-allotted.
“So why cannot Bhattal retain her house as she was the chief minister? Before that, she was a Cabinet minister. So as an MLA, she should also be allowed to retain the house,’’ said an insider.
On Monday, Bhattal had said, “If the Punjab Police says that I have no threat to life, I am ready to vacate this house and live in a tent outside the chief minister’s residence. But I will vacate this house only when everyone in the state, including politicians and bureaucrats who are occupying houses unauthorisedly, vacate their houses.’’
“This house is not the house earmarked for the leader of the opposition. When (Parkash Singh) Badal was the leader of the opposition, he occupied house number 50 here. That is vacant. That house can be given to the leader of the opposition,” she added.