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3-min read

Privileged Politicians and The Politically Curious Case of Bungalows in Bihar

Nine years ago, JD (U) supremo and the current chief minister of Bihar, Nitish Kumar-led government passed a law which enabled the allotment of lifetime bungalows to former chief ministers under the Bihar Special Security Group (Amendment) Act, 2010.

Rounak Kumar Gunjan | News18.com@Rounak_T

Updated:February 21, 2019, 2:02 PM IST
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Privileged Politicians and The Politically Curious Case of Bungalows in Bihar
File photo of RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav.

New Delhi: Even if out of power, it seems like politicians of Bihar do not want to let go of the privileges they once enjoyed. So much so, that the Patna High Court this week had to intervene and pass a ruling that all ex-chief ministers of Bihar need to vacate the government allotted bungalows.

The politicians in turn have justified their stay based on a state-law passed in 2010.

Nine years ago, JD (U) supremo and the current chief minister of Bihar, Nitish Kumar-led government passed a law which enabled the allotment of lifetime bungalows to former chief ministers under the Bihar Special Security Group (Amendment) Act, 2010.

All these years thence, the matter came to the court’s notice only by chance.

The court while hearing RJD leader Tejaswi Yadav’s PIL for letting him occupy the bungalow where he resided and originally allotted to Bihar’s Deputy CM Sushil Modi, took cognizance of former chief ministers enjoying the luxury of lifetime bungalows and further enquired about the laws which entitle them to this privilege.

On the same day, the Patna High Court served notices to all the former chief ministers and sought their reply. The court heard both the sides on February 11 and reserved its order in the case.

The court observed that the rules guiding the allotment of government bungalows to former chief ministers did not appear transparent enough. It also expressed its surprise on how two bungalows were allotted to one person – Chief Minister Nitish Kumar – in Patna.

Taking up the matter for a hearing, a division bench of Chief Justice AP Shahi and Justice Anjana Mishra asked why the former chief ministers do not live in their private bungalows even when they are provided security there.

The bench also referred to how former chief ministers of Uttar Pradesh had to vacate the government bungalows allotted to them for a lifetime following a Supreme Court order in May last year and sought responses from the former chief ministers of Bihar.

Former Bihar CMs Satish Prasad Singh (CM for three days in 1968), Dr Jagannath Mishra (1975-77, 1980-83 and 1989-90), Jitan Ram Manjhi (CM for nine months in 2014-15), Rabri Devi and her husband Lalu Prasad Yadav (1990-2005) have been allotted plush government bungalows in Patna. Rabri Devi and Lalu live in one such bungalow at 10, Circular road.

Current CM Nitish Kumar, who is serving his third term, has been living in the official residence at 1, Anne Marg since 2005.

In his possession is another bungalow at 7, Circular Road that was allotted to him for a lifetime as former CM in March 2016. His close aide and JD (U) national vice-president Prashant Kishor has been functioning from this second residence.

Meanwhile, when Tejashwi Yadav vacated his current residence, its inheritor Sushil Modi was taken by surprise to see the opulence of the bungalow, with its luxurious amenities and furnishings. “This seems like a seven star hotel. Even the PM’s house wouldn’t be so decked up,” he said, after moving in.

Tejashwi was allotted the bungalow in case after November 2015, when he was appointed deputy chief minister of the then 'Grand Alliance' government headed by Nitish Kumar. The 5, Desh Ratna Marg bungalow, is located at a stone's throw from the chief minister's official bungalow at 1, Anney Marg.

Apart from this, RJD chief Lalu Prasad will also lose the 10, Circular Road bungalow, which has been a silent witness to the rise and fall of his family and fortunes since 2005.

The bungalow which was allotted to Lalu’s wife Rabri Devi in the capacity of the former CM has to be vacated after the Patna High Court of Tuesday. Lalu also stayed in the 10, Circular Road bungalow in the capacity of former CM before he was convicted and sent to jail in multi-crore fodder scam cases in December 2017.

This has virtually been the RJD fortress since losing power in 2005. All important party meetings and other celebrations, including Lalu’s birthday, Chhath Puja and Makar Sankranti feasts were held here.

“We hope Rabri ji will be allotted another government bungalow in the capacity of leader of opposition in Bihar legislative council, but many memories are associated with the 10, Circular Road bungalow,” said RJD spokesperson Chitranjan Gagan.

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| Edited by: Zoya Mateen
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