(Brig (retd) GB Reddi)
Political leadership is full of shameless characters who endlessly go on claiming perks and privileges.
Kudos should go to Lucknow-based NGO Lok Praharai to file a PIL in the Supreme Court who struck down a provision in the Uttar Pradesh Ministers (Salaries, Allowances and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1981, which allows former chief ministers to retain their official accommodation even after their term ends oOn May 7.
The issue pertains to the plundering tax payers’ money by shameless politicians – criminals and crooks – masquerading as leaders with utter disregard to the interests of society particularly BPL families.
Tragic and quixotic Mulayam Singh Yadav and his son have filed an appeal to retain their government palaces in Lucknow. And, their plea for relief is simple as usual. – “sufficient” time to vacate bungalows allotted to them during their tenure as chief minister.
Mulayam has sought relief citing the “security of the petitioner, age and ill-health”. And, his son Akhilesh requested the court to “grant” him “sufficient time to make arrangements for suitable alternative accommodation, taking into consideration the security of the petitioner and his family members”.
Let me review the plundering of tax payer’s money by the political goons masquerading as champions of the poor and downtrodden.
First, Mulayam Singh Yadav as MP lives in a sprawling Bungalow – 16, Ashoka Road, New Delhi. In Lucknow, he stays at 5, Vikramaditya Marg. Not to be overlooked is his SAIFAI Mansion or Palace.
Akhilesh Yadav lives in adjoining sprawling 4 Vikramaditya Marg, Lucknow. .And his wife, Dimple Yadav, MP, official residence is C-1/36, Pandara Park,New Delhi.
Viewed in the contest of their declared assets, the extravaganza of “Yadav” dynasty at tax payer’s cost is unacceptable in a democracy.
For example, Akhilesh Yadav’s Net Worth as of 2017 is estimated is: $15 Million what with annual Income of $2 Million out of income from politics, Real Estate, Investments in Insurance companies, undeclared businesses in Lucknow. Shameless Akhilesh should be to pay a paltry sum of around Rs.10,000/- as rent for 2 months.
Mulayam Singh Yadav’s another son drives a Lamborghini Huracan Worth Rs 5 Crore,
Next, Mayawati extravaganza/plundering record of national resources makes “Yadav’s” pale into insignificance. In Lucknow, her residence is 13A Mall Avenue. Day after the decision of the Supreme Court, the BSP claimed that Mayawati’s residence was a memorial to party founder Kanshi Ram. In support of the BSP’s claim, a board describing the sprawling bungalow of Mayawati as Sri Kanshiram Ji Yadgar Vishram Sthal has come up.
However, Mayawati’s record of residences in New Delhi thanks to the UPA government authorization to retain them – merging three (12, 14, 16 Bungalows) sprawling bungalows on the Gurudwara Rakabgunj Road into one for adequate space for Bahujan Samaj Prerna Trust; two more bungalows one on the same road; and the other official residence at 3, Thyagraj, Type VIII bungalow..
These bungalows are among the largest government quarters in Delhi, each featuring eight bedrooms, four servant quarters and front and back lawns. The merged property covers an area six times bigger than the main chamber of the Lok Sabha in Parliament House, which seats over 500 MPs.
N D Tiwari also has residences in C1/9, Tilak Lane , New Delhi and 1 A, Mall Avenue , Lucknow.
Whereas Rajnath Singh and Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh — who were earlier chief ministers and had been allotted bungalows — conveyed to the estate department their willingness to vacate these.
One wonders why the Supreme Court failed to dismiss the appeals of Mulayam Singh and Akhilesh Yadav’s outright at the time of admission and direct the Estate Officer to evict them like any other ordinary citizen.
Let me also reiterate the extravaganza of our political leaders in Lutyens Bungalow Zone (LBJ). Not only there is growing demand for Constitutionally authorized posts but also Z+ security VIPs and Memorials/Museums etc.
Ipso facto, politicians who are not ministers but continue in Type-VIII bungalows are Adhir Ranjan Choudhary, Ghulam Nabi Azad, Saifudin Soz, K Chiranjeevi, Satish Chandra Misra, Pramod Tiwari, Virbhadra Singh, Sharad Pawar, Sudip Bandopadhyaya, Kumari Selja, Prithviraj Chavan, Rajiv Shukla, Vayalar Ravi, M Kharge, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Kariya Munda, K Chandrasekhar Rao, Lalu Prasad, Sharad Yadav, Mayawati, K H Muniyappa, E Ahamed, M S Gill, relatives of Sis Ram Ola and spouse of Arjun Singh.
Former Prime Minister, not a Member of Parliament (MP), Atal Bihari Vajpayee, resides in a bungalow on Krishna Menon Marg since 2005.
Add to it, the former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh allotted a Type VIII bungalow, on 3 Motilal Nehru Marg, previously occupied by Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit on account of his being Rajya Sabha MP from Assam.
Also, the UPA government handed over 6 Krishna Menon Marg to Meira Kumar (or, officially, to the Babu Jagjivan Ram Memorial Foundation) for 25 years.
Two Type-VII bungalows under occupation of Buta Singh and Farooq Abdullah have been continued due to security reasons.
Payal Abdullah, the estranged wife of former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah, was on Friday asked by the Delhi High Court to gracefully move out of the government bungalow at 7, Akbar Road where she has been living since 1999 with her two sons from her marriage with the J&K National Conference leader.
Sonia Gandhi, without holding any constitutional post, resides in 10 Janpath, spread over 15,181 sq m spread over 3.75 acres worth Rs.1,600 crores, while the Prime Minister’s, is smaller at 14,101 sq m. In 2013-2014, Rs.51.43 lakhs were spent just for maintenance of electrical fittings in 2013-2014.
Congress President Rahul Gandhi (no Constitutional Post) lives in a sprawling bungalow at 12, Tughlaq Lane, spanning 5,022.58 sq m, while Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has been allotted a 2,765.18 sq m-bungalow at 35 Lodhi Estate.
If one adds Maneka Ghandy and her son Varun Ghandy, there are five members of the “Ghandy Dynasty” staying in “Posh Bungalows” and splurging tax payer’s money on upkeep and maintenance.
As a consequence, new elected MPs are housed at a very exorbitant costs to the tax payers in “Five Star Hotels”.
Most disturbing it is that the time tested game of “pittance’ of market rent are charged for willful defaulters refusing to vacate the Bungalows.
As per data, the LBJ with 1000 bungalows covers an area of about 26 km2 (6424 acres). Out of it, 254.5 acres are in private hands. There are nearly 625 bungalows in the top categories (Type-8 five bed rooms & Type-7 with four bed rooms plus servant quarters, garages and lawns).
But, only 305 are available under the `General Pool’ to meet the demand of central ministers, secretaries, heads of constitutional authorities and ex-ministers awaiting accommodation from Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha as per their entitlement. 76 bungalows are in the `Judges Pool’ in the “General Pool.” The remaining are Type-7 and 6 Flats.
As per data in public domain (Report to Supreme Court), the government listed 126 Type-VIII bungalows in the general pool after catering to the needs of bungalows under different pools such as Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha, Supreme Court, High Court, Defense.
This category also takes care of demand of some institutions while 18 have been allotted to chairpersons and members of commissions and tribunals. Till recently, there was no separate quota for chairpersons and members of tribunals and commissions, so they were getting accommodation from the `General Pool’. As per media reports, there are about six dozen tribunals and commissions and they require about 220-222 houses. The urban development ministry has pooled 38 Type-7 flats and 100 Type-6B flats in the Commonwealth Games Village to meet a part of this requirement, but allotters are reluctant to take them.
Next, the list of bungalows turned into Museums includes:Teen Murti Bhavan, originally known as ‘Flagstaff House’ and the residence of the Commander-in-Chief of the British Forces in India spread over a 30-acre estate and taken over as the residence of the Nehru, First Prime Minister, was converted in 1964 into a national memorial comprising a library and a museum; No 5 Tees January Marg is “Gandhi Smriti” Memorial. Indira Ghandy Memorial Museum – No 1 Safdar Jung Road is also spread over a vast acreage;
Even Ajit Singh, son of former Prime Minister Charan Singh, attempted to convert the bungalow into a Museum in which he was staying whilst a MP and Minister.
But, it is the “VVIP Memorials” of nation’s political leaders along the banks of Yamuna that occupy around 245 acres of prime land. Their data is accessible in public domain to include: Mahatma Gandhi (Raj Ghat) – 44.35; Jawaharlal Nehru (Shantivan) – 52.6; Indira Gandhi (Shakti Sthal) – 45; Lal Bahadur Shastri (Vijay Ghat) – 40; Rajiv Gandhi (Veer Bhumi) – 15; Choudhary Charan Singh (Kisan Ghat) -19; Giani Zail Singh (Ekta Sthal) – 22.56; Jagjivan Ram (Samta Sthal) – 12.5; and others like Chandra Shekhar (Jannayak Sthal), Devi Lal (Sangharsh Sthal), I. K. Gujral (Smiriti Sthal), P. V. Narasimha Rao (P.V. Ghat), Shankar Dayal Sharma (Karma Bhumi) etc. Instead, many leaders of insignificant contributions find ‘iconic’ stature. Even the Samadhi of Sanjay Gandhi, the deceased son of Indira Gandhi, is also built next to Shanti Van.
If the precedents set in the past to convert residences into “Museums, Foundations and Memorials”, then almost all the ‘prime properties’ would get misappropriated for others uses at a very huge cost to the exchequer/tax payers money.
Media in the past had been highlighting the long-standing real estate racket in LBJ – plushest residential area in New Delhi. As per reports, the LBJ has the most expensive real estate in India, possibly the world. The market value of 254.5 acres of Land in private hands has increased eightfold in the last ten years, from around Rs 6,100 crores to Rs 49,000 crores. In December 2016, Renuka Talwar, daughter of DLF Chairman KP Singh, has acquired a bungalow on Prithviraj Road for Rs 435 crore in one of the biggest deals for a property in Lutyens’ Delhi.
“Licensed” real estate mafia is strongly entrenched. Who are they? A political leader passes away and his near and dear ones ensure free accommodation for life by getting the government to convert the bungalow, with its beautiful lawns and comfortable outhouses, into a museum in honor of the great departed soul (all maintenance work included).
In 2000, the Vajpayee government had decreed that government residences would not be allowed to be converted into memorials. Even Union finance minister Arun Jaitley announced that no official bungalow in Lutyens Delhi will any longer be made available for conversion into a memorial to a person.
Time Bound Action Plan:
- Supreme Court to dismiss appeals for stay on evicition at the “Admission” stage only.
- Evict all unauthorized squatters not entitled to stay in bungalows having relinquished constitutional posts. Otherwise, charge them at “Real Rental Values” instead of grossly undervalued “market rent” value. Also, investigate for “sub letting” to others.
- Redevelopment of LBZ, including reducing size of plots. Use vast vacant spaces in Bungalows to construct additional accommodation based on “Gated Community” concept adjacent to the Parliament.
- Construct separate fortress-type TOWERS to house all those on Z plus Security (SPG Protectees), in relatively secure Delhi Cantonment to minimize threat concerns or alternatively located within the vast empty spaces of Rashtrapati estate.
- Relocate “Museums/Memorials” under one-roof.
- Relocate and centralize all “Memorials-Ghats” next to Rajghat.
- Media, NGO’s and civil society to relentlessly pursue their tirade against profligacy.
- Initiate firm and decisive actions against “Licensed” real estate mafia’s..