Seven months after having lost the last general election — and with it their memberships of the Lok Sabha — about a dozen ex-MPs have still not vacated the official residence allotted to them during the UPA government’s first term.
The “squatters” include Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, and Congress leader Sajjan Kumar.
These MPs have been holding on by paying the ‘official market rent’ for the accommodation that varies from Rs 9,000 to Rs1 lakh per month. Rents for the flats at Vithalbhai Patel House on Rafi Marg are between Rs 9000 to Rs 13,000 per month; for those on North and South Avenues Rs 20,000 per month. Rents at the bigger houses and ministerial bungalows range from Rs 50,000 to Rs 1 lakh per month.
This is a small fraction of what privately owned properties in the same areas cost those who rent them.
Renting a bungalow on a one-acre plot in these areas, for instance, would cost around Rs 3.5 lakh to Rs 5 lakh per month.
Ministers and MPs are allocated houses from the central government pool, while the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha have separate quotas. Sitting MPs have to pay a nominal sum as Rs.105 as monthly rent. They are also get 500 units of power each month free.
Once they cease to be MPs, they are given a grace period of one month to vacate houses allotted to them.
“Members try to hold on to the accommodation by repeatedly seeking three-month extensions under one pretext or another. This has been a perennial problem,” Jai Prakash Agarwal, Lok Sabha Housing Committee chairman, told HT.
“We have sent regular notices to the unauthorised occupants. If nothing works, we will have their belongings thrown out on the streets,” he added.
With no empty houses available, at least one union minister — Heavy Industries Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh — and three ex-chief ministers who are now MPs — Mulayam Singh Yadav and Jagdambika Pal from Uttar Pradesh, and N Dharam Singh from Karnataka — have not been allotted houses.
Deshmukh has been staying at the Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) guesthouse. Mulayam’s stays with his son Akhilesh – also an MP – at the latter’s official residence.