After getting plum ministries, the new BJP ministers are now vying for bungalows at Malabar Hill and cabins at Mantralaya.Senior ministers, including revenue minister Eknath Khadse and finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar, have been eyeing Ramtek, largest in size after the CM’s bungalow, Varsha.
Ramtek, the 8,857 sqft bungalow, was occupied by Gopinath Munde when he was deputy chief minister in the Sena-BJP government between 1995 and 1999. In 1999, Chhagan Bhujbal, his successor in the Congress-NCP government, moved into the bungalow, not vacating it even after he was removed from the post in December 2003.
Since Khadse is the most senior minister in the new Cabinet, his officers feel he has natural claim to Ramtek. The bungalow, renovated by Bhujbal after he moved in, has a sprawling backyard, which rubs shoulders with the sea shore.
Khadse has staked claim to the cabin previously occupied by former deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, on the sixth floor of the Mantralaya. Spreading across 8,000 sqft, the size of the office is second only to the CM’s 13,000 sqft cabin. Sudhir Mungantiwar has settled for a cabin on the fifth floor that was earlier occupied by cooperation minister Harshavardhan Patil.
Meanwhile, six key NCP leaders — Ajit Pawar, Chhagan Bhujbal, Jayant Patil, Bhaskar Jadhav, Hasan Mushrif and Rajesh Tope — have applied to extend their occupancy of official bungalows they have been living in for years. Rajesh Tope, who occupies a 3,300 sqft flat in Sarang building, has applied for an extension of two months. The other ministers have sought extension till November end. The general administration department is unwilling to comply.
“We have sent a proposal to the CM, recommending that extension not be granted. We will need some time to conduct repairs in the bungalows before they are allotted to the new ministers. Hence we are against the extension. The final decision has to be taken by the CM,” said an official from the department. He added that the CM will take a final call about allotment of cabins and bungalows, later this week.
There are a total of 19 former ministers who have not vacated their bungalows and flats so far. The official said they will be fined at the rate of Rs25 per sqft a month.