For some ministers in the Modi cabinet, the scramble for official Lutyens’ bungalows and a long wait may give way to some surprises.
The reason: Some of the former ministers in the UPA government had done up their bungalows quite lavishly.
Take for instance former tourism minister and current Rajya Sabha Member of Parliament K Chiranjeevi’s 17, Akbar Road bungalow which has been allotted to home minister Rajnath Singh. Sources in Central Public Works Department, which maintains the bungalows, say that the Telugu superstar spent more than Rs. 3 crore to re-do the interiors.
Imported marble and wood were used to refurbish floors and wall panels, and the house has a designer bathrooms and sports expensive lights and chandeliers.
“It looks suitably filmy,” said a government official, requesting anonymity.
CPWD officials said that with Chiranjeevi still to vacate the bungalow, it might be too early to say if Rajnath Singh would want to retain its fancy avatar or would restore its original staidness.
“Generally, if a bungalow is maintained well, ministers do not tinker with the setting except for minor upgrades here and there,” said an official.
Former PM Manmohan Singh is an exception. He moved to 3, Motilal Nehru Marg, the bungalow which its former occupant, then Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit, had elaborately done up. Singh’s family told CPWD officials to replace the wooden flooring with simple mosaic.
Another fancied bungalow is the 6, Akbar Road one which was occupied by former telecom minister Dayanidhi Maran. It had been allotted to water resources minister Uma Bharti who moved in early this week.
“It was one of the most sought-after bungalows. It has been done up so well that only minimal upgrade was required before the minister moved in,” said one of Bharti’s staffers.
Former law minister Kapil Sibal’s 19, Teen Murti Marg bungalow is another house in demand. Both HRD minister Smriti Irani and commerce minister Nirmala Sitharaman wanted it. It was finally allotted to petroleum minister Dharmendra Pradhan.
“The house is smartly done up and has three entries and exits,” said a source.
Even former UIDAI chairman Nandan Nilekani’s 2, Safdarjung Lane bungalow is done up well, and has been allotted to GM Siddeshwara, MoS, civil aviation.
CPWD officials say the kind of makeover some of the bungalows have undergone is way above the official cap fixed by the urban development ministry for renovation. “The renovation ceiling is `1 lakh per minister’s bungalow,” said an official.
According to UD ministry officials, only seven former ministers have not vacated their official bungalows. “We have allotted bungalows to all the 45 ministers. But a few, including UD minister M Venkaiah Naidu, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj and women and child development minister Maneka Gandhi, have chosen to live in their existing government-allotted bungalows,” said a ministry official.
Of the 265 former MPs who were served notices to vacate their government-allotted flats/bungalows, 43 are yet to move out. “They have been given time till August-end to move out, failing which they would be forcibly evicted,” said a ministry official.