| Giriraj Singh’s house on 15 Kautilya Marg. Picture by Deepak Kumar |
The government notice to sacked BJP ministers to vacate their official bungalows has turned into a direct confrontation between chief minister Nitish Kumar and his former colleagues.
The building construction department on August 18 issued notices on eight former BJP ministers asking them to vacate their official bungalows with “immediate effect”.
The department refrained from doing the same with former deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi, who is now the BJP parliamentary party leader, and Leader of Opposition in the Assembly, Nandkishore Yadav, on the ground that they enjoy the status of a cabinet minister. Former tourism minister Sushil Kumar has also been spared as he had never shifted to the bungalow from his legislator’s flat.
Former cooperative minister Ramadhar Singh was visibly angry. “We will not abide by the Tuglaqui farman. I have been living in 36A Hardinge Road ever since I became an MLA in 2005.” Ramadhar also pointed out how the government had adopted “pick and choose” policy while allotting houses to the legislators. “How has Sanjay Jha been allowed to live in a ministerial bungalow on the Hardinge Road? He is not even an MLC,” Ramadhar asked.
Former animal and fish resources minister Giriraj Singh said issuing notice to the former BJP ministers to vacate the house without allotting them new ones reflected Nitish’s “dictatorial” attitude. “We have no interest of living in the ministerial bungalows after losing our position. But the government must have allotted us official accommodation in our capacity as legislators ahead of slapping notice on us to vacate the houses.”
That the notice reflected “vendetta” on the part of Nitish government, said Giriraj, was evident from the fact that he had not expanded his cabinet so far. “Whom is he going to allot the houses vacated by us when he has no ministers to allot them?” he asked.
The MLAs and MLCs are allotted houses under separate pool headed by the Assembly Speaker and Council chairman. “We have issued notices because they are no longer ministers. Our department is not entitled to allot the MLAs and MLCs the houses,” building construction minister Damodar Rawat said.
The government has already issued notice on 85 legislators to vacate their flats, which are being demolished to be replaced by duplex constructions.