20 former ministers and 120 former MPs are still clinging to their official houses (photo: ABP Live)
The general election was held in mid-May, yet several former ministers of the previous UPA administration have still not vacated their official bungalows in New Delhi. The extended deadline to do so expired on Saturday and the Urban Development Ministry has finally begun eviction proceedings against the 20 former ministers and 120 former members of Parliament who still clinging to their houses.
These colonial bungalows are much sought after, located as they are in the prestigious Lutyen’s area of the capital. There is a clear pecking order in the allocation to ministers and MPs, with the choicest and largest bungalows allocated to cabinet ministers and senior parliamentarians, while those at the bottom of the list – first-time MPs – have to make do with apartments.
This is a recurring problem following every Lok Sabha election as the outgoing MPs have to make way for the incoming MPs.
But this latest election has created an unusually long waiting list for official accommodation, because the majority of MPs are first timers. So many new parliamentarians have come in that they are being accommodated in government-run hotels and their respective state bhavans while they wait for their predecessors to vacate their houses.
According to the rules, former ministers and MPs have to vacate within one month after they demit office or lose an election. Former ministers who are members of the Rajya Sabha have to move to new accommodation that they are entitled to.
So far 28 former ministers have vacated their bungalows, and 150 members MPs who lost the election have also vacated their official accommodation.
Yet, according to the Press Trust of India (PTI), former minister Chiranjeevi has not yet vacated his bungalow, which will be allotted to Home Minister Rajnath Singh. Former Defence Minister AK Antony, who is a Rajya Sabha member and has to move to the appropriate accommodation, has still not yet left his highest-grade Type-VIII bungalow meant for a minister.
The deadline of June 26 was extended by one month by the new administration as a courtesy. Yet with several refusing to vacate even by July 26, Urban Development Minister Venkaiah Naidu has finally given the go ahead to send eviction notices.
Lalu Prasad Yadav has been given an extension till October, and the family of the late Sis Ram Ola will be allowed to stay on till next year. Mallikarjun Kharge can keep his ministerial bungalow till a decision is taken on the post of Leader of the Opposition.
If the 140 remaining politicians do not vacate within a week, their premises may be forcibly vacated.
This includes several ministers who have been clinging on despite having left office years ago. According to the Times of India, these include A Raja (resigned as minister in November 2010), Dayanidhi Maran (resigned as minister in July 2011), Pawan Kumar Bansal (resigned in May 2013) and SM Krishna (resigned in October 2012), who all occupy Type VII or Type VII category houses.
On May 18, the Supreme Court had directed the government to use reasonable force to evict these former ministers.
Now that is something the people would like to see: politicians being held to account for overstaying and evicted from their official premises they are no longer entitled to.