Akhilesh Yadav calls bungalow row a BJP’s conspiracy

The patriarch of Samajwadi Party, Mulayam Singh Yadav and his son and former chief minister, Akhilesh Yadav, have lost possession of their palatial official bungalows after an elongated battle to retain it by hook or crook. They even resorted to all sorts of legal options and legislative way out to escape the adverse verdict of the Supreme Court that ordered evicting of the gigantic bungalows occupied by former chief ministers.

The controversy erupted when allegations against Akhilesh Yadav surfaced that he took away valuable lightings, décor from the newly reconstructed, furnished bungalow and left a damaged floors and roofs at the time of vacating it. Pictures published by media showed damaged floor tiles and laminations. Air conditioning ducts of the centrally air-conditioned house had been pulled out, swimming pool, modular kitchen, cycle track, decorative plants, lights, bathroom fittings,etc. were found damaged or missing.

Confirming the reports, Yogesh Shukla, Estate Officer told Tehelka, “We are in a process of verifying our inventories issued to Yadav from time to time and to scrutinise sanctions of fixtures and furniture him, only then I will be able to say something about the quantum of damages and assessment of loss.”

The Supreme Court has ordered former chief ministers to vacate the government bungalows allotted to them after demitting their office. Since the judgment has affected not only the father-son duo but also, BJP stalwarts like Kalyan Singh and Rajnath Singh, BSP president Mayawati and 93-year-old veteran Congress leader Narayan Dutt Tiwari, therefore, all the members of the legislature passed this act to legitimise their occupation on government bungalows.

The Supreme Court held this exercise of power and struck it down terming it to be unconstitutional. The changes were “arbitrary and discriminatory” and violated the concept of equality, the judges said. The Supreme Court judgment ruled, “It is a legislative exercise based on irrelevant and legally unacceptable considerations, unsupported by any constitutional sanctity.”

To escape media coverage, the Akhilesh Yadav government under the garb of the earlier judgment of 2016 affecting former CMs, unnecessarily dragged journalists into its ambit by cancelling allotment of flats to all the journalists. Thereafter, his government adopted a policy to re-allot them under newly enacted Act and rules. In fact, the Apex Court had no occasion to examine the issue relating to allotment of type IV and V flats in favour of working journalists on rent basis as it was not impugned by the petitioner, NGO Lok Prahari, led by retired IAS officer and its secretary Satya Narain Shukla.

“The issue relating to allotment of government accommodation on rent to working journalists was in-depth considered and settled by the Apex Court in an earlier verdict in the case of Shiv Sagar Tiwari. The Apex Court approved the guidelines suggested by Press Council of India to regulate allotments of flats to working journalists. The present ruling did not interfere with settled position,” said veteran journalist Sharat Pradhan.

The former secretary, Government of India, Vijay Shankar Pandey demanded penal action against Akhilesh Yadav for causing huge damage to the government bungalow while vacating it days ago. Pandey alleged the state government had spent around 42 crore in the renovation of the bungalow located at 4-Vikramaditya Marg in Lucknow. The damage was deliberate and out of sheer frustration of vacating it after Supreme Court verdict, said he.

BJP leaders are up in arms adding fuel to fire over this issue. “The damage done to the bungalow by Yadav shows his frustration”, said BJP spokesperson Harish Chandra Srivastav. On the other hand, Samajwadi Party leader Sunil Singh Sajan, a close aide of Yadav, called it a conspiracy to malign the image of Yadav following the defeat of BJP in Kairana and Noorpur by-elections.

Yadav too reacted to allegations, “If one should learn from BJP how to defame someone. The government should say what has been damaged and what is missing.” “These officers should be aware that governments come and go. I have seen officials pick up cups and plates, they should not get in to such behaviour of smearing my name in public.”