Mayawati vacates bungalow that was declared Kanshi Ram memorial, ‘hopes’ UP govt will take care of it
The Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati insists that the structure is a Kanshi Ram memorial, accuses BJP government of using the issue to divert the media’s attention from its poor showing in the bypolls.Updated: Jun 03, 2018, 09:37 IST
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief and former Uttar Pradesh chief minister Mayawati on Saturday averted a showdown with the Yogi Adityanath government as she dramatically announced her decision to vacate the 13A Mall Avenue bungalow.
That was the last day of the half-month deadline set for all former chief ministers to move out of their official residences in consonance with a recent Supreme Court order.
Mayawati had sent the keys to her other bungalow – 6 Lal Bahadur Shastri Marg – to the estate department on Wednesday. However, the estate department refused to accept them , stating that 13A Mall Avenue was the bungalow she had to vacate as per the Supreme Court order.
The estate department was planning to send her a fresh notice, but Mayawati dramatically announced her decision to leave before that. She also claimed that the Adityanath government was resorting to such tactics simply because it was rattled by a series of bypoll losses in Uttar Pradesh.
Then, in a rare gesture, she invited the media inside the bungalow, which her government had declared as a memorial to BSP founder Kanshi Ram on January 13, 2011. “You have come here several times in the past. But today I invite you to take a tour of the memorial with me, so that I could acquaint you with the high points of Kanshi Ramji’s life, the rooms where he used to stay, and the portion that I resided in,” she said.
Mayawati also pointed at murals depicting Kanshi Ram’s journey and life-sized statues of her mentor as well as her. She explained that her statue came up alongside that of the BSP founder because she was the sole inheritor of his legacy.
The former chief minister has now decided to shift to the adjacent 9 Mall Avenue, spread over more than 71,000 square feet, which she had purchased on November 3, 2010 – three years after coming to power in the state in 2007. “I now hope that the state government will take good care of the 13A Mall Avenue, the memorial that was largely being maintained by my personal staff. Please remember that it’s a ‘Kanshiramji Yaadgar Sthal’ for me and millions of others,” she said.
On May 25, Mayawati had written to Adityanath government that the estate department’s directive to vacate the 13A Mall Avenue bungalow in consonance with the court order was wrong. A few days ago, a board stating ‘Kanshiram Yaadgar Sthal’ was installed outside it. This led people to believe that she was planning to hold on to the bungalow by citing technicalities.
“I hoped that you (media) had at least waited until the deadline set by the government for me to vacate the memorial. But I understand that you must be under pressure from the government, which is clearly rattled by a series of bypoll losses,” Mayawati told reporters.
She alleged that the BJP government wanted the media to focus on 13 Mall Avenue instead of its embarrassing defeats in key electoral constituencies.
Political experts feel that Mayawati’s decision to let the media into the portion of the bungalow where she lived was largely aimed at countering the BJP’s charge that power had turned her from ‘Dalit ki beti to dalulat ki beti (Daughter of Dalit to daughter of wealth)’. The room she stayed in was neat and spacious but with just a lone bed sans ostentation.
With this, all former chief ministers with the exception of the ailing ND Tiwari have vacated the bungalows allotted to them. They include Union home minister Rajnath Singh, Rajasthan governor Kalyan Singh, former defence minister Mulayam Singh Yadav and Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav.
Acting on the Supreme Court order passed on May 7, the state estate department issued notices mandating that the former chief ministers vacate their official bungalows within 15 days. The judicial order had come on a public interest litigation filed by NGO Lok Prahari against an amendment allowing all former chief ministers to occupy government bungalows for a lifetime.
The apex court also struck down another provision allowing chief ministers to retain government accommodation even after demitting office.