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Former chief ministers in Madhya Pradesh get eminent tag, and home for life

The Madhya Pradesh government has re-alloted bungalows to three of four former chief ministers, including Union minister Uma Bharti, under the “eminent citizen” category for life in a bid to get around a state high court order cancelling the allotments.

Madhya Pradesh Elections 2018 Updated: Jul 28, 2018 21:46 IST
Bhopal
Madhya Pradesh,govt bungalow,former chief ministers
The orders were issued late on Friday evening following directions of chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.(PTI/File Photo)

The Madhya Pradesh government has re-alloted bungalows to three of four former chief ministers, including Union minister Uma Bharti, under the “eminent citizen” category for life in a bid to get around a state high court order cancelling the allotments.

In its order, the court had termed the provision of housing for former CMs in the state’s law for salaries and allowances for ministers , “unconstitutional”.

In a notification issued late on Friday night, the government decided to re-allot the same bungalows to the CMs under the eminent citizen category with a monthly rental of Rs 6,000, about a third of the government’s own market-equivalent rate for these bungalows.

Principal secretary (Home) Malay Shrivastava said the allotments will be made for life. “The orders were issued late evening on Friday following directions of chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan,” he added.

In May, the Supreme Court quashed a Uttar Pradesh government order allotting bungalows to former chief ministers saying a former chief minister is only a commoner and not a “special class of citizen” who can enjoy privileges, perks and official bungalows at taxpayers’ expense for his entire lifetime.

Following the ruling, six former chief ministers — ND Tiwari, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Kalyan Singh, Mayawati, Rajnath Singh and Akhilesh Yadav — were forced to vacate their bungalows.

On June 26, the Madhya Pradesh high court struck down the provision of the Madhya Pradesh Mantri (Salaries and Allowances) Act that allowed allotment of bungalows to former CMs for lifetime without paying any rent saying the provision was “unconstitutional” and directed the state to get the bungalows vacated by July 19. The allotments were cancelled after the order based on the May SC ruling.

The court was ruling on a public interest litigation filed by advocate Raunak Yadav. “If the government is using some other means to make the same allotment, then it is illegal. I will study the government’s order in detail and then move the high court against it,” he said.

In addition to Bharti, Kailash Joshi, Babulal Gaur (all three BJP) and the Congress’ Digvijaya Singh had been allocated government bungalows. However, two-time chief minister Digvijaya Singh, whose allotment was also cancelled following the high court order, was left out of the allotment largesse as he did not apply for a house.

Senior BJP leader and state revenue minister Uma Shankar Gupta said that Digvijaya Singh has not applied afresh for allotment and hence his name is missing. State Congress president Kamal Nath said that he would ask Singh to apply for the government accommodation.

“I think former chief ministers should be give accommodation, and I hope there will be no discrimination when it comes to allotting it to Digvijaya,” Nath added.

Former chief minister Babulal Gaur, who is also a sitting MLA, said that he applied a “few days back’ and also that he deserved the accommodation as he has been an MLA for the past 30 years.

Former CM Kailash Joshi could not be reached over phone, with the person who took the call saying he was indisposed. Digvijaya Singh and Uma Bharti could not immediately be reached for comment.

First Published: Jul 28, 2018 21:46 IST