Four former Uttar Pradesh chief ministers are getting ready to leave their official bungalows with the Supreme Court deadline ending this weekend. The top court had on May 7 held that former chief ministers of Uttar Pradesh cannot retain government accommodation after demitting office. The estate department had issued notices to six former chief ministers – Narayan Dutt Tiwari, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Kalyan Singh, Mayawati, Rajnath Singh and Akhilesh Yadav – to vacate their official bungalows in compliance with SC the order. The four former chief ministers, except for Tiwari and BSP supremo Mayawati, appear to be leaving their bungalows.
While Tiwari is ill, his wife Ujjwala Tiwari has sought more time from the estate department, pleading that her husband was in the “last stages” of his life. Controversy has arisen over Mayawati’s claim that the 13 A Mall Avenue bungalow was party founder Kanshi Ram’s memorial. The estate department has rejected Mayawati’s claim that the 13 A Mall Avenue is Kanshi Ram’s memorial, while claiming that the 6 Lal Bahadur Shastri Marg residence, which she had vacated, was under her “illegal possession”. “13A Mall Avenue was allotted to Mayawati in capacity as former CM while 6 Lal Bahadur Shastri Marg bunglow was under her illegal possession. She has to vacate Mall Avenue residence as per the SC order,” a senior estate department official told PTI.
Claiming compliance with the SC order, Mayawati had last week vacated the bungalow on 6, Lal Bahadur Shastri Marg which, the BSP claimed, was allotted to her as former CM. The BSP appeared to suggest that the notice Mayawati got is for the wrong bungalow. “The UP government notice asked Mayawati to vacate 13A, Mall Avenue, and not the bungalow on Lal Bahadur Shastri Marg, which they claim was actually allotted to her as a former chief minister,” BSP said. Last week, a BSP delegation met Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, claiming that the Mall Avenue bungalow was converted into a Kanshi Ram memorial in 2011, and Mayawati occupied only two rooms in it. On May 21, after it had received the vacation notice, the BSP also installed a board at that bungalow, terming it ‘Shri Kanshi Ram Ji Yadgar Vishram Sthal’.
While former chief minister Tiwari has not yet vacated his bungalow on the Mall Avenue, a board reading ‘Pandit Narain Dutt Tiwari Sarvjan Vikas Foundation’ has been fixed outside it in an apparent bid to save it. No other communication has been received from Tiwari, an estate department officer said. With barely a day left for the expiry of deadline to former Uttar Pradesh chief ministers to vacate their official bungalows, the other former CMs are leaving their official houses. Belongings of former UP chief ministers Akhilesh Yadav and Mulayam Singh Yadav were seen being taken out from their official residences at 4 and 5 Vikramaditya Marg. However, it is still unclear as to where will they exactly move.
“Both Akhileshji and ‘netaji’ (Mulayam) will be leaving the accommodation with the notice period,” SP spokesperson Rajendra Chowdhury said. Akhilesh Ydav has asked the estate department to allot him two rooms in the VVIP guest house from where he can move till the shifting ends, a SP office bearer said. “The (estate department’s) notice period is ending on June 3. We cannot extend the period. As of now, former CMs — Kalyan Singh and Rajnath Singh — have given information of vacating their accommodations. We hope others will follow,” Estate Officer Yogesh Shukla told PTI. They currently occupy prime government properties in the high-security VVIP zone in Lucknow. While Mulayam Singh Yadav and Akhilesh Yadav occupy bungalows on the posh Vikramaditya Marg, Mayawati and Tiwari reside in the official bungalow on Mall Avenue.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s bungalow is at 4, Kalidas Marg, just next to the residence of the chief minister. While Rajnath Singh, who is also the local MP, has shifted to his residence on 200 square metre plot at 3/206 Vipul Khand in Gomti Nagar, Rajasthan Govenor Kalyan Singh’s belongings have been moved to the official bungalow of his grandson Sandeep Singh, who is a minister in the Yogi Adityanath government. “You find a house for me. I will build a house on the Vikramaditya Marg behind the CM’s residence, but it will take time,” Akhilesh Yadav told reporters recently when asked to comment on the issue. SP treasurer and Rajya Sabha MP, Sanjay Seth, who is a known builder, is helping Akhilesh Yadav and Mulayam Singh Yadav to find and settle in new accommodations, SP sources said.
The Supreme Court’s order came on a public interest litigation filed by NGO Lok Prahari following an amendment passed by the UP Assembly which allowed all the former chief ministers to occupy government bungalows for lifetime. The apex court had struck down the amendment to the legislation which allowed them to retain government accommodation even after demitting office. The bench had said the amendment was “arbitrary, discriminatory” and violated the concept of equality and added that once such persons demit public office, there is nothing to distinguish them from the common man. The NGO had challenged the amendment made by the erstwhile Akhilesh Yadav government to the UP ministers (Salaries, Allowances and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1981.