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Party ends at Lutyens Delhi

New Delhi, June 16: Political parties have been told to clear out of upscale, leafy Lutyens Delhi.

The Centre, acting on a Supreme Court order to “free” the 2,800-hectare Lutyens Bungalow Zone of party offices, today okayed a policy to lease land to national political parties elsewhere in the city.

In effect, it’s an eviction notice to parties like the Congress and BJP that have their headquarters at places such as Akbar Road and Ashoka Road. Once they have built the new office ' or within three years of taking possession of the new plot, whichever is earlier ' the parties must shift.

Of the three institutional zones earmarked for the new offices, the closest to Lutyens Delhi is Deendayal Upadhyaya Marg. The other two are R.K. Puram in south Delhi and the Badarpur-Mehrauli area on the Faridabad road. Only those recognised by the Election Commission as national political parties and having at least seven MPs would be eligible for the allotment, though.

The size of the land will depend on the parties’ combined strength in the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha. Those with 201 or more members will get four acres or above; a strength of 101 to 200 MPs will bring two acres; while 51-100 members will fetch one acre. Parties that have 50 or fewer MPs will get between 2,000 and 500 square metres (roughly half to one-eighth an acre).

The BJP and Janata Dal (United) slammed the decision as “ad hoc” and “biased” in favour of the Congress, which now has the highest number of MPs. The Congress shed tears of nostalgia for its old premises but said there wasn’t much it could do.

Asked what would happen if the Congress’s strength dropped sharply after the next elections, official sources said the party would still keep the new office and the land, but certain “stringent” conditions would apply to their use.

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