Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has been finally served a notice to vacate the government bungalow which she continued to live in even after the SPG security allocated to her was removed last year. In a letter served to her, the Gandhi scion has been given a month time to vacate the 35 Lodhi Estate bungalow which she has been occupying for the last 20 years as part of the entitlement which came to her along with her maiden name.
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra continued to stay in govt accommodation despite removal of SPG cover
Last year in November, the SPG cover provided to Congress interim President Sonia Gandhi her children Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra was withdrawn and replaced by CRPF security. And since then, almost 8 months have passed, but she has continued to stay in the government bungalow.
Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, a private citizen, was allotted Type VI bungalow in February 1997 on the recommendation of the SPG, home ministry and cabinet secretariat. The accommodation was deemed necessary due to the SPG security, from the security point of view, also due to the requirement of places for the SPG commandos protecting her. She has been staying in the govt bungalow even though she is not a public servant, she is neither a govt official nor a member of parliament or assembly. She had been granted the house only on the basis of her SPG protected status.
The Gandhi scion convinced Vajpayee govt to reduce her monthly rent
In 2002, when Atal Bihari Vajpayee led BJP government was at the helm of affairs, then too, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra had managed to retain her accommodation. It was reported how she had convinced the Vajpayee government to reduce the monthly rent for her 2,765.18 sqm house in Lutyens’ Delhi from Rs 53,421 to only Rs 8,888, a whopping 83% reduction.
On May 07, 2002, Priyanka wrote to the government and said that Rs 53,421 was “too high” an amount and “beyond her paying capacity”.
In 2002, Priyanka told the government that she had been “occupying the bungalow on the request of the SPG and that a large part of the bungalow was occupied by SPG itself” and not by her family. She added that it is not her choice to stay in a general pool house but she is doing so due to security considerations.
The note for the Cabinet Committee on Accommodation on July 8, 2003, said: “The matter has been reviewed keeping in view the facts that security protectees are not unauthorised occupants and allotments have been made to them as per the policy of the government. It has been felt that the security protectees, including SPG protectees, may be charged special licence fee in respect of the government accommodation provided to them as they are private persons and they cannot afford to pay the market rates of licence fees”.
This is how, Priyanka Gandhi did not only manage to retain the entitlement, despite not being eligible for it but also managed to get the rent revised to Rs 8,888 per month from July 24, 2003. The rent was gradually increased as per norms, and in 2016, it was reported that Priyanka Gandhi Vadra was paying Rs 31,300 for accommodation in Type VI government house at 35, Lodhi Estate, which should have at least cost her Rs 53,421 per month as per 2002 rate, if not more.
When the house was originally granted to Priyanka Vadra in 1997, its rent was Rs 19,900 per month, as per the market rate at this time. The rate was gradually increased, but Vadra managed to slash the rates citing her inability to pay, and also by arguing that she was not using the whole bungalow, as parts of it were occupied by SPG.
Retained house during Modi-1 govt and stopped paying rent during Modi-2
When Modi govt came to power, many BJP supporters demanded that Priyanka Vadra should be evicted from the govt house, but she managed to stay on during the first term of the Modi govt. The SPG protection status of the Gandhi family, including hers, was retained by the home ministry during the Modi govt-1, and therefore, she was able to retain the house, as it was felt that it will be difficult for SPG to provide her protection in a different location outside the high-security area. As long as she remained under the protection of SPG, the accommodation remained available to her by default.
Moreover, according to sources, Priyanka Gandhi also has not paid rent for almost a year now. Reportedly the Gandhi scion owes around Rs 3.5 lakh in rents to the govt. This means that she had stopped paying rent even before her SPG protection was withdrawn.
In 2019, the Home Ministry decided to replace the SPG category status of the Gandhi family with Z-plus security after the intelligence agencies had conducted a detailed review of threat perception of the Gandhis and had advised downgrading of security protection accorded to them from SPG cover to ‘Z-plus security’. This meant that the bungalow was no longer a security requirement. Despite this, the Gandhi scion until now has been using the government accommodation, which she should have vacated long ago, considering she does not hold any public office.
So basically to sum it up, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is still living in government accommodation, which she is not entitled to. Secondly, she was being charged a rent which was technically much lower than what it should have been for a type VI government accommodation. And to top it all, she owed Rs 3,46,000 to the govt in rents, which means that she had not paid up the rent for atleast last 10 months.