The Uttarakhand government has withdrawn some of the perks to former chief ministers barring ND Tiwari who headed the state between 2002 and 2007, according to an affidavit filed in court.
The Uttarakhand high court is hearing a petition challenging the facilities provided to former chief ministers on the ground that they were an “unnecessary burden on the state’s exchequer”.
Uttarakhand has seen eight chief ministers since the state was carved out of Uttar Pradesh in 2000.
Before Tiwari became the first elected chief minister in 2002, the state was headed by Nityanand Swami and Bhagat Singh Koshyari, both of whom were in charge for brief periods. Swami passed away in 2012.
Tiwari was succeeded by BC Khanduri (twice), Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank, Vijay Bahuguna and Harish Rawat, who took charge of the Congress government in 2014.
The government provided Rs 85,000 per month for expenses on personal staff, Rs 10,000 for sweeper and telephone attendant and unlimited fuel for both petrol and diesel vehicles.
Last year, the Cabinet decided to do away with these perks to four ex-CMs though they are still entitled to a house and Y-category security.
In its affidavit filed on January 5, the state government informed the court that it has withdrawn certain facilities such as vehicle and staff to four former chief ministers but exempted Tiwari. HT has a copy of the document.
“Considering various positions held by ND Tiwari, as an exception, (he) has been provided two vehicles with drivers, one personal assistant and two class four employees,” the affidavit says.
Congress leader Tiwari, 90, is considered a father figure in state politics and commands respect among party leaders and workers.
In 2014, the veteran leader ended a long-running court case after a DNA test confirmed that he was the biological father of 35-year-old Rohit Sekhar. Tiwari married Sekhar’s mother Ujjwala Sharma after denying any relationship with her for nearly 40 years.
A Dehradun-based NGO – the Rural Litigation for Entitlement Kendra (RLEK) which filed the public interest litigation (PIL) in 2013 – had sought to know under which rules the facilities such as official residence, security and personal assistants are provided to former CMs.
The government said the former CMs were asked to respond whether they hold other residences than the one provided by the state. Only two -- Koshyari and Bahuguna -- replied.
Koshyari said he owns an ancestral house in his village while Bahuguna informed he owns a joint property in Delhi, where his son stays with his family.
“Why is there any need to give palatial bungalows to former CMs in Dehradun. Late Swami had set an example. He owned a home in the capital and never availed government accommodation, which other ex-CMs are doing,” said Avdhash Kaushal, chairman of RLEK.
“Our counsel will challenge the reply filed by the government.”