Samajwadi Party spars with BJP over ‘damage’ to Akhilesh Yadav’s former residence
While the Samajwadi Party denied all allegations of vandalism, the BJP said it was unbecoming of a former chief minister to damage a structure built with public money.Updated: Jun 09, 2018 23:17 IST
Hindustan Times, Lucknow/Agra
Images and videos of alleged damages wreaked on a government-allotted bungalow formerly occupied by Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav have given rise to war of words between the opposition party and the ruling BJP.
The Uttar Pradesh estate department threw open the premises of the bungalow on 4, Vikramaditya Marg in Lucknow for a media tour the very morning after Yadav surrendered the keys on Friday. Soon images of apparent vandalism – including a graffiti that read ‘Life is too short to worry about things’ – cropped up on television channels as well as social media platforms.
Yadav described the government’s move as a “deliberate attempt” to tarnish his rising popularity. Denying charges that he had left his former residence in a shambles, he accused the BJP of unleashing false propaganda against him.
“I have neither caused any damage to the house from which I moved out nor carried anything away. The media should check the room of my children as well as the temple I installed there,” the Samajwadi Party president told reporters after performing a ‘darshan’ at the Bankey Bihari temple in Vrindavan on Saturday.
“People know the reality, and so does Bihariji,” he added.
State BJP leader Harish Srivastava, on the other hand, said it was unbecoming of a former chief minister to treat a structure constructed with the exchequer’s funds in such a shabby manner. “It’s a bungalow built with public money. This will make people notice the self-serving nature of this politician who never fails to preach to others about morality and governance,” he added.
However, a senior Samajwadi Party leader said Yadav only took away things that belonged to him from the house. Sunil Singh ‘Sajan’, party spokesperson and Yadav’s aide, also came out in his defence.
“They (the BJP) are rattled by successive bypoll defeats and Akhilesh’s rising popularity. Why did they not show the bungalows of former BJP chief ministers Rajnath Singh and Kalyan Singh to the media after they were vacated?” Sajan questioned.
He demanded that the estate department provide an inventory of the items that came with the house and then tally it with what was left behind to buttress its claims. The party spokesperson also wondered why no estate department official was present at the scene to tell mediapersons about the things that had supposedly gone missing.
Estate department head Yogesh Shukla confirmed that Yadav had handed over the keys to the bungalow on Friday night. When asked to comment on the video clips that seemed to indicate damages to the building, he told PTI: “We will check our inventory to confirm which items were provided by us. A notice will be served to the former occupant if we find any shortcomings or instances of damage done intentionally.”
Yadav had vacated the bungalow on June 2, and handed over the keys to the department on Friday night.
IANS quoted government officials as stating that barring a marble temple in one corner, the entire house – built at a cost of Rs 42 crore – had been damaged. They alleged that expensive floor and wall tiles had been damaged beyond repair, and switchboards ripped off.
An official further said that the all-weather swimming pool attached to the house had also been filled with sand, and its imported tiles irreparably broken. Iron angles could allegedly be seen protruding from various places, and many doors inside the house had been damaged.
The state estate department had served notices to six former chief ministers – Narayan Dutt Tiwari, Kalyan Singh, Rajnath Singh, Mayawati, Mulayam Singh Yadav and Akhilesh Yadav – asking them to vacate their official bungalows by June 3 in compliance with a Supreme Court order.
Everybody, barring Tiwari, has complied with the order. Relatives of the former chief minister, who was hospitalised in a Delhi hospital after suffering a stroke, have sought an extension.
(With agency inputs)
First Published: Jun 09, 2018 21:10 IST