Namita Bhattacharya, the adopted daughter of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, has written to Prime Minister’s Office wherein she conveyed that the family wishes to give up the Krishna Menon Marg bungalow. She has also requested retreating of her SPG cover even though the law entitles former PMs and their immediate family members to security by the elite force based on their threat level, which is gauged every year.
Atal Bihari Vajpayee along with his foster family used to reside at 6-A, Krishna Menon Marg. His foster family comprises Namita, her husband Ranjan Bhattacharya and their daughter Niharika. They stayed with him during Vajpayee’s tenure as Prime Minister and after he demitted his office in 2004. Ranjan Bhattacharya, in fact, worked with Vajpayee as Officer on Special Duty (OSD) in the Prime Minister’s Office.
Three months later after Atal ji passed away, the family adopted by him, owing to his association with college friend and then long-time companion Rajrani Kaul, Namita’s mother, has decided to move out of their Lutyens’ Delhi home and live in a private house. Namita is learnt to have conveyed in her letter to the PMO that SPG cover was inquisitive and the security protocol ended up causing difficulty to the public.
SPG Act allows a former PM and his/her immediate family to retain SPG covers for a year and thereafter based on a threat assessment to be taken at a gap of not more than 12 months.
Also, it is this SPG Act by virtue of which Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi have had SPG protection since the Act was amended in the wake of Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination to cover former PMs and their immediate family.
In Uttar Pradesh, it actually became a tough task for Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath to get the houses of former Chief Ministers vacated. The Supreme Court, in its major ruling quashed an amendment made by Uttar Pradesh state government legislated during the rule of Akhilesh Yadav government which allowed permanent accommodation to former Chief Ministers. The SC has said that former CMs cannot occupy government accommodation after their term comes to an end, as this is a blatant violation of existing laws. SC ruled that such legislation is “arbitrary, discriminatory and unsupported by the constitution”.
Even after SC’s order, Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati were reluctant and resorted to desperate tricks to retain their VIP bungalows at Lucknow. On one hand, BSP Supremo in a very sharp political move declared that her bungalow, 13-A, Mall Avenue, would be known as Kashiram Vishramalaya Sthal (Rest House). Whereas on the other hand, on being served with the notice to vacate the house Akhilesh Yadav asked for two years to vacate the government bungalow citing ‘non-availability of suitable accommodation’.
After BSP Chief Mayawati disregards SC order, SP Chief Akhilesh Yadav demands two years to vacate the government bungalow citing ‘non-availability of suitable accommodation’. @Amir_Haque with the details #MemorialMaya pic.twitter.com/WEuxNZfvlH
— TIMES NOW (@TimesNow) May 21, 2018
When Akhilesh finally left the bungalow, it was all in shambles as electrical switch boards, fans, air-conditioning ducts and even taps were pulled out and taken away. These acts do not set healthy precedents at all and these leaders are expected to act more responsibly.
In an era where families of politicians go to extreme lengths to retain or even acquire more privileges, Atal ji’s family has set an example by deciding to give up any sort of perks.