BJP govt dangles bungalow carrot to win new friends in run-up to polls
The sprawling bungalows located in posh localities of the state capital are likely to play an important role in political realignments in the run-up to the 2019 Lok Sabha election.
The BJP government in Uttar Pradesh has started allotting some of these bungalows to the leaders of its allies and the likely coalition partners in a bid to keep them in good humour, people familiar with the matter said.
On October 12, Samajwadi Party (SP) rebel and Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party (Lohia) chief Shivpal Singh Yadav was allotted a bungalow on 6 Lal Bahadur Shastri Marg. Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati had vacated the same bungalow a few months earlier in pursuance of a Supreme Court order.
“Besides dividing the SP vote-bank, the BJP hopes to win the support of the Yadav voters by allotting a grand bungalow to Shivpal,” said a senior SP leader.
On Monday, the Yogi Adityanath government allotted the bungalow vacated by former chief minister the late ND Tiwari on the posh Mall Avenue to Apna Dal national president Ashish Singh. Singh is the husband of Union minister of state for health and family welfare Anupriya Patel. The Apna Dal, a BJP ally, has considerable influence over Kurmi voters in Varanasi and its adjoining districts.
The move is seen as strengthening the bond between the two parties before the crucial Lok Sabha polls.
Acting on a Supreme Court order, six former chief ministers earlier this year vacated the bungalows allotted by the state government. These six former chief ministers had included Rajnath Singh, Kalyan Singh, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Akhilesh Yadav, Mayawati and ND Tiwari.
While two of these bungalows have now been re-allotted, all eyes are on the remaining four bungalows.
For instance, Independent MLA from Kunda and former minister Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias Raj Bhaiya who has announced he will launch a new political party on November 30, is likely to be allotted a bungalow too.
The estate department has been directed to allocate a bungalow to Raghuraj Pratap Singh once he launches his political party, said a senior state government officer who refused to be named. An aide of the former minister said he had moved an application with the Election Commission for the registration of his political party. His supporters are circulating the name of the Jansatta Party on the social media.
But Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party (SBSP) president Om Prakash Rajbhar, who is loggerheads with the state government despite being a BJP ally, is yet to get a bungalow to run the party office.
Talking to HT, Rajbhar said, “A year has passed since I applied for allotment of a bungalow to open the SBSP office but I have received no intimation from the estate department yet.”
“I am a minister in the state cabinet but there are no takers for my plea. It seems that my objections to the anti- people policies of the state government are disliked by the BJP leaders, so they have denied me a bungalow. Whereas SP rebel Shivpal Singh Yadav had been allotted bungalow vacated by the BSP chief,” he said.
Rajbhar organised a rally in Lucknow on October 27 and threatened to quit the state cabinet if the state government continued to overlook his demand.
The estate department had issued notices to the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), the Communist Party of India and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) to vacate the bungalows and premises allotted to run their party offices.
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader Ramesh Dixit said the issuing of notices to some national and regional parties to vacate their offices showed the dual policy of the BJP government. While the parties that toed the BJP line were allotted bungalows, the opposition parties were being threatened with notices to vacate their offices, he said.
Estate officer Yogesh Shukla said notices had been served on some political parties to vacate the bungalows as they were violating the allotment rules. Some of the political parties had not deposited rent for several years, he said.
Samajwadi Party leader Gopal Yadav said the Supreme Court had directed trusts to vacate government bungalows. The order was issued in the first week of October.
The estate department served notices on Veer Bahadur Singh Sewa Sansthan, Mahatam Rai Trust and Ambedkar Mahasabha but gave them four months’ time since the BJP leaders or those close to power were occupying the bungalows, he said.