Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s daughter Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said on Saturday that the then BJP government in 2002 had determined the rent of her government accommodation and it “was the same as others” in her category of SPG protectees.
Priyanka was reacting to media reports based on an RTI query suggesting that she had negotiated with the BJP government 14 years ago to bring down the monthly rent of her Lodhi Estate bungalow from Rs 53,421 to Rs 8,888.
In a statement, Priyanka’s office said she had rented private accommodation for her residence in December 1996 and paid advance rent, besides initiating renovation work. However, the then SPG director informed her of the decision of government agencies “denying her occupation” of the rented private accommodation on the grounds that it did not fulfil security requirements.
“Consequently, she was directed to occupy government accommodation on security grounds,” it said.
The Cabinet Committee on Accommodation had, in July 2003, revised the special licence fee for not only Priyanka for government accommodation, but also of former Punjab DGP KPS Gill, All India Anti-Terrorist Front chief BS Bitta and Punjab Kesri editor Ashwani Kumar.
“Multiple protectees occupying government accommodation on security grounds brought to the notice of the then BJP government that a 90% increase, from one month to the next, in 2002 from Market Rate/Special License Fee to Damages Rate was contrary to prevailing rules and regulations,” the statement said.
“None of the said persons were unauthorised occupants of the premises. They were, in fact, authorised occupants and the Damages Rate did not apply to them. This error was subsequently corrected by the cabinet committee on accommodation of the then BJP government pursuant to a letter and a meeting between current BJP MP Shri Ashwini Kumar (Minna) and the then Prime Minister Shri AB Vajpayee,” it said.