Amid the ongoing political crisis in Rajasthan, Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot’s government recently brought in a new notification which permits former CM Vasundhara Raje to continue staying in the much-controversial bungalow number 13 in Civil Lines in Jaipur.
Raje has been residing in this bungalow since 2008, first in her capacity as the leader of opposition from (2008-13) and then as Chief Minister (from 2013-18). In fact, during her term as CM, she had declared this bungalow as the Chief Minister’s House. Even after finishing her tenure in 2018, the bungalow was not vacated by Raje despite the High Court’s order and surprisingly, the state government also did not try to evict her.
Now, according to the recent notification released by the Rajasthan government, Raje can continue staying in the bungalow for her present term and again if she is elected as MLA.
The Gehlot government in the notification announced that till the time a former CM holds the rank of MLA, he or she can get a Type One category bungalow, that too, out of turn.
The Rajasthan government has marked five bungalows, including Raje’s, in the House Committee of the Assembly for the General Administration Department. Now these bungalows can be allocated to former CMs, Cabinet ministers or Union ministers in the Central government or three-time MLAs, or Cabinet ministers in the Rajasthan government.
In 2019, the Rajasthan High Court ordered all former CMs to vacate government bungalows. Despite the order of the High Court, the government did not ask Raje to vacate her bungalow. However, the bungalow of former Chief Minister Jagannath Pahadia was vacated.
Former Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot had alleged collusion between Raje and Gehlot over Raje’s bungalow not being vacated which was a major issue raised by the Congress in the last Assembly election.
Nagaur MP Hanuman Beniwal has also alleged that Gehlot is not evicting Raje from her bungalow and in return Raje is helping to prop up Gehlot’s government.
A lawyer named Vimal Chaudhary had filed a contempt petition in the Rajasthan High Court on the issue and the hearing on this petition was scheduled on September 10. The petition says a fine of Rs 10,000 per day should be recovered as penalty for not vacating the bungalow from the day the High Court’s order was issued.
Meanwhile, many questions are being raised on Raje’s silence amid the ongoing political crisis in Rajasthan. However, state BJP officials clarified that Raje would speak as and when required.
Raje went to Delhi to meet BJP President J.P. Nadda two days back. She has been staying at her Dholpur Palace residence for over a month and has tweeted twice during the political drama in Rajasthan.