Priyanka calls out ‘fake news’ on bungalow request, minister tweets his rebuttal
On July 1, the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs had cancelled the government accommodation allocated to Gandhi on the ground that she is ineligible for the entitlement, as she no longer enjoys the security cover of the Special Protection Group (SPG).Updated: Jul 14, 2020 15:46 IST
Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra on Tuesday said that she would vacate her government bungalow at 35 Lodhi Estate in Lutyens’ Delhi within the stipulated one-month deadline and rubbished claims that she requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi for an extension of the tenure beyond August 1.
On July 1, the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs had cancelled the government accommodation allocated to Gandhi on the ground that she is ineligible for the entitlement, as she no longer enjoys the security cover of the Special Protection Group (SPG).
On Tuesday, she reacted to reports claiming she had requested PM Modi seeking to stay on at her official accommodation beyond August 1.
“This is FAKE NEWS. I have not made any such request to the government. As per the eviction letter handed to me on July 1, I will be vacating the government accommodation at 35 Lodhi Estate by August 1,” she tweeted.
Gandhi’s husband Robert Vadra also reiterated that the family had not asked for an extension and would vacate the bungalow a week before the deadline expires amid the raging coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak.
“This is completely incorrect!! We have not asked for any extension of stay. We were sent a notice on July 1 to leave in 30 days. We at a time of Covid-19 have packed our entire household, and will leave a week before time,” he tweeted.
However, Union Minister for Housing and Urban Affairs Hardeep Singh Puri has punctured holes in Gandhi’s claims a while after she tweeted to set the record straight.
Puri referred to “facts” such as a powerful Congress leader’s move to let her stay on at 35 Lodhi Estate on July 4, three days after the eviction notice was served on her.
“Facts speak for themselves! A powerful Congress leader with much clout in the party called me on July 4 at 12.05pm to request that 35, Lodhi Estate be allotted to another Congress MP so that Priyanka Gandhi-Vadra can stay on. Let’s not sensationalise everything please,” Puri tweeted shortly after Gandhi took to social media to clarify her stand.
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra promptly responded, distancing herself from the request. “If someone called you Mr Puri, I thank them for their concern, and thank you for your consideration as well but it still does not change the facts: I have made no such request, and I am making no such request,” she said.
The ministry has already allotted her bungalow to Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Rajya Sabha member and party spokesperson, Anil Baluni.
Officials familiar with the development told HT that the ministry has allotted the type 6B bungalow to Baluni.
The allotment of central government bungalows is done through the General Pool Residential Accommodation (GPRA) Rules, 2017, of the directorate of estates.
She was allotted the Lodhi Estate bungalow on February 21, 1997, as an SPG protectee.
Hours after the notice was served to her on July 1, she paid off all her pending dues, amounting to 3,46,677, until June 30, the ministry had said.
She is planning to move to the house of late Sheila Kaul, her grand-mother Indira Gandhi’s maternal aunt, in Lucknow.
The Congress said that the house was renovated a few months ago.
Gandhi’s relocation to Lucknow is being seen as a bid to enthuse party workers ahead of the Uttar Pradesh (UP) assembly polls slated to be held in 2022 amid the party’s dwindling electoral fortunes in the country’s most populous state for over three decades.