Leader of Opposition still homeless,CM’s former aide occupying sprawling bungalow

This is a rather interesting tale of Punjab’s high and mighty. While the new Leader of Opposition is scanning newspapers to read eviction notices on government accommodation in Chandigarh,a former principal secretary of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal is still occupying a sprawling bungalow at Sector 5 without any post after losing the Assembly election from Bhadaur.

Written by Sukhdeep Kaur | Chandigarh | Published: July 24, 2012 1:50:53 am

This is a rather interesting tale of Punjab’s high and mighty. While the new Leader of Opposition is scanning newspapers to read eviction notices on government accommodation in Chandigarh,a former principal secretary of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal is still occupying a sprawling bungalow at Sector 5 without any post after losing the Assembly election from Bhadaur.

Sunil Jakhar,who is still awaiting a place to set up his home and hearth three months after his appointment,recently chanced upon a news item regarding Chandigarh administration serving notice to Badal’s former aide D S Guru to vacate the premises. A hassled Jakhar,who has had no word from the chief minister to his written request for a house,was quick to shoot a letter to Punjab Governor and Chandigarh Administrator Shivraj Patil.

Patil had learnt about the Congress leader’s predicament — former Leader of Opposition Rajinder Kaur Bhattal had refused to vacate her house of 19 years,which now stands allotted to Jakhar — at an informal meeting on issues related to Chandigarh attended by Punjab and Haryana CMs and Opposition leaders in May.

At the meeting,Jakhar,who had in a letter written to the CM,pleaded his case on grounds of effective working of Opposition in Punjab,once again reminded the latter about him being homeless. Badal was more amused than concerned by his request and quipped,“The lady has made it her home by adding many comforts.” However,Patil,who as Chandigarh Administrator has jurisdiction over government accommodations under Union Territory’s quota,has assured help.

“The chief minister has not even replied to my letter. Since Guru has been served a notice by the Chandigarh administration to vacate the premises,we have written to the Governor. As Leader of Opposition,I need a office to function and cannot set up one without a home,” said Jakhar. But his problems are far from over,as Guru too is learnt to be unwilling to vacate.

When contacted,Punjab’s general administration department contended that it had served a notice to Bhattal to vacate the premises in April. “The letter said the house stands allotted to the new Leader of Opposition. Order for further action has to come from the CM,” an official said.

Meanwhile,Bhattal — who has been staying at the palatial bungalow for 19 years first as a cabinet minister,later her brief stint as CM,deputy CM,and then as two-time Leader of Opposition — has asked for a replacement that is equally good.

Since her Sector 2 residence is the only government house that boasts of a swimming pool that Bhattal said was constructed as the area had long snake-like creepers hanging from trees,besides other attractions like bird cages,dog house,manicured lawns and spacious office,finding one as good would not come easy.

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