The Bihar Chief Minister’s residence(s) has become the subject of a war of words between Nitish Kumar and his former deputy, BJP leader Sushil Kumar Modi. Currently, Nitish has two official houses. The 7, Circular Road residence is conveniently located as it is just two houses away from 10, Janpath, where his alliance partner, RJD’s Lalu Prasad, stays.
The second is 1, Anne Marg — the official CM’s residence, vacated after some resistance from its former occupant Jitan Ram Manjhi.
Nitish seems to have a soft spot for the digit seven and hence, wants to keep 7, Circular Road — where he has been living and working ever since it was allotted to him during Manjhi’s term as CM. The official CM’s bungalow works as an extension of Nitish’s house.
A CM secretariat at 4, Desh Ratna Marg, opposite the official bungalow, is also used for key functions of the Chief Minister. Sushil Modi wrote to Nitish asking why and how the CM could be allotted two houses — one for the serving CM, and the other that was allotted to him in his capacity as former CM when Manjhi was CM.
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The letter says, “As far as I know, you do not believe in vanshwad (dynasty). When former CMs Lalu Prasad and Rabri Devi can live in one bungalow with their two minister sons, why do you need two houses?… You have been chosen as CM for five years and it would be the duty of the next government to allot a house to a former CM. But allotting yourself two houses during your tenure as CM shows you are short on confidence about not getting a desired bungalow once you demit office.”
Nitish hit back: “Sushil Kumar Modi also has a (personal) house at Rajendra Nagar. Why did he get himself allotted an official bungalow? If Sushilji gives his house or vacates the BJP office, I can shift there.” The CM, however, did not comment on retaining the two houses.
Modi retorted: “There can nothing better than the CM living in the house of a BJP leader or party office. I can talk to my siblings, co-owners of my Rajendra Nagar house, if the CM desires to live there.”
“When over 150 MLAs don’t have official houses because of ongoing construction of MLA flats, it does not behove a CM to keep two houses,” Modi said.
An MLA who does not get an official flat or bungalow gets a monthly rental allowance of Rs 28,000. The state government has been constructing multi-storey MLA flats along Bir Chand Patel Path.