Following the Supreme Court’s recent order asking states not to allot government bungalows to former chief ministers, the Congress government in Punjab is in a bind on the issue of action to be taken in the case of senior Congress leader and ex-CM Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, who still occupies a government bungalow in sector 2 of Chandigarh, right behind the Chief Minister’s house.
The SC has set May 31 as the deadline to get the houses occupied by ex-CMs evicted. Bhattal is not even a MLA now. She lost from Lehra Gaga during 2017 Assembly elections. The bungalow was allotted to her by former CM Parkash Singh Badal from his pool on “security grounds”.
After the SC order, a file has been put up by Department of General Administration to Punjab’s Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh, who was not available for comment. Only last year, the government had refunded Bhattal Rs 84 lakh deposited by her as penal rent for overstaying in house number 46, which was then meant for leader of opposition. She was removed as LOP but did not vacate the house for 15 months. She had to deposit the penal rent amount to get NOC for contesting the Assembly election. But after coming to power, Amarinder’s government waived off the penal rent and refunded the amount, a decision that invited criticism.
Bhattal has been a known baiter of Amarinder. During his previous regime, she had led around 30 MLAs to sound a bugle of revolt against him. However, during this government, she has been keeping quiet.
“I do not know what will happen. We have to send an action taken report to the CM. We either send her a notice of eviction or levy penal rent. The next action depends on the CM. The issue is in his knowledge,” said an official.