SC order on vacating bungalows: How Mulayam and Akhilesh Yadav stand to be the biggest losers
The former UP CM did not hesitate in allegedly spending about Rs 62 crore to redo the chief secretary's bungalow and occupy it.
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If the Supreme Court order to dislodge former Uttar Pradesh chief ministers from luxurious government bungalows was to be implemented in letter and spirit, the biggest losers would be Samajwadi Party leader Akhilesh Yadav and his father Mulayam Singh Yadav.
Bungalow No. 4, Vikramaditya Marg, allotted in October 2016 to Akhilesh Yadav.
While there were no less than half a dozen beneficiaries of the unique law whereby all chief ministers are entitled to a government bungalow in Lucknow for a lifetime after demitting office, Akhilesh and Mulayam were seen squatting on the largest public properties in the state capital, where they own gigantic private properties too.
The other beneficiaries were BJP leaders, Union home minister Rajnath Singh, Rajasthan governor Kalyan Singh and Congress leader, Narayan Dutt Tiwari.
If Mulayam occupies a giant mansion spread across a 25,000 sq ft plot on Lucknow's prime Vikramaditya Marg, his son Akhilesh has a far more luxurious place standing on a bigger 40,000 sq ft plot just next door. If there is anyone who can match the grandeur, it's Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo, Mayawati, who lives on a two-acre estate in the equally posh and expensive Mall Avenue area.
Mayawati's opulent estate was built at an estimated cost of Rs 103 crore, taken out of the taxpayer's money. And that did not happen without the demolition of a palatial house and a government office building on the adjoining plot. The office of state sugarcane commissioner was shifted to a new building.
When Mayawati indulged in this extravagance, both Mulayam and Akhilesh lambasted her. But when his own turn came, Akhilesh did not hesitate in allegedly spending about Rs 62 crore to redo the chief secretary's bungalow and occupy it. This included the construction of an annexe with a few guest suites and an air-conditioned badminton hall. According to insiders, the expensive custom-made imported furniture and furnishings alone were billed at about Rs 21 crore.
Interestingly, as chief minister, Akhilesh continued to live in his father's house and it was only after the relations between the two got strained that he chose to move into this "seven-star" home.
Before he set his eyes on this bungalow, Akhilesh had identified another building that housed the office of the state's chief town planner. He did a Mayawati by ordering shifting of that office and getting the place done up for himself. A couple of crores were spent on erecting a high boundary wall around it and on its renovation to make it "liveable" for the young stylish CM, but by the time the work could be completed, he realised the need to live closer to his father. And it wasn't difficult to find it. The young chief minister chose the bungalow earmarked for the chief secretary, who was shifted to another house in the neighbourhood.
However, it did not mean that Akhilesh would give up his hold over the grand property carved out for him out of the erstwhile chief town planner's office. So, this building was allotted to a trust created in the name of late Janeshwar Misra, a well-known socialist of his times. Significantly, Mulayam had already allotted a bungalow in the name of Ram Manohar Lohia Trust, which was expanded during Akhilesh's tenure by clubbing the adjoining bungalow with this one.
The Samajwadi Party office set up in another such bungalow within 200 metres of the other properties had already expanded manifold and the Janeshwar Misra trust came in handy as its extension.
Besides all these government properties, Akhilesh and his next of kin own two private properties within 500 metres of his official bungalow - a plot measuring about 24,000 sq ft and a 15,000 sq ft commercial building rented out to a public sector bank.
Mayawati's opulent estate was built at an estimated cost of Rs 103 crore.
Yet, SP spokespersons were busy trying to justify that he "needed a government bungalow in the larger interest of keeping democratic conventions so that he could make himself available to common people, who were pouring in from all corners of the state".
Interestingly, Mayawati too had acquired two ministers' bungalows close to her own "ex-CM's house" and got them converted into a grand BSP state headquarters. And like Akhilesh, she also made a private acquisition - a huge bungalow spread on a 45,000 sq ft plot just across her official home in the plush Mall Avenue.
While Rajnath Singh, Kalyan Singh and ND Tiwari were all enjoying the fruits of official comforts in well laid out bungalows allotted to them as former chief ministers, none seemed to have gone out of the way to add any kind of five-star luxury to these homes.
However, Kalyan Singh had got another bungalow in the neighbourhood of his own "ex-CM's" house allotted to a trust named after his protégé Kusum Rai's father, a nobody in public life. The allotment was extended for 30 years by Kalyan's otherwise sworn adversary Mulayam Singh Yadav, who also doled out crores for major renovation work undertaken in that house.
A bungalow allotted to Congress leader and former CM Ram Naresh Yadav, however, was vacated recently after his death.