LUCKNOW: The controversy over BSP supremo Mayawati converting the 13-A Mall Avenue bungalow into a memorial for Dalit icon Kanshi Ram continued today with the BJP raising doubts over it, saying public was not allowed to visit it till now.
BSP national general secretary Satish Chandra Misra, however, refuted the allegation and said that the memorial was open for public but only after proper security check, the visitors were allowed to enter.
His rebuttal came after BJP spokesman Manish Shukla said, "No one prior to June 2, when the BSP chief announced that she was vacating the bungalow, was allowed to visit the 'Sri Kanshi Ram Ji Yadgar Vishram Sthal'.
" "If 13-A Mall Avenue was 'Sri Kanshi Ram Ji Yadgar Vishram Sthal' and it was a museum in the name of Kanshi Ram, why were the common people not allowed entry. People are allowed entry into (other) museums either through ticket or for free," Shukla pointed out.
"The manner in which Mayawati took mediapersons on a guided tour of the bungalow that day (June 2).
Did it ever happen before. Even the mediapersons who were invited for press conferences there used to be earlier confined to an open place and were not allowed to move around," Shukla stressed.
Misra told PTI that the BJP's contention was "far from truth".
"People were allowed to visit the campus but after proper security check. It was only the small portion (of the property)that was occupied by the party supremo where entry was restricted," he said.
The BSP chief has moved out of the premises with all her belongings and the bungalow has been handed over to the state's Estates Department, Misra said.
On Saturday, the BSP president had said she was "vacating" the portion of the 13-A Mall Avenue bungalow which her party has already declared as the memorial in the name of founder Kanshi Ram.
"I am today vacating the portion of 13-A Mall Avenue occupied by me till now. From now on the entire bungalow in Lucknow will be 'Sri Kanshi Ram Ji Yadgar Vishram Sthal' the memorial named after Kanshi Ram," Mayawati had told newspersons.
Mayawati had said the security and maintenance of the memorial will henceforth be the responsibility of the state government as per the Cabinet decision of 2011.
She had also taken the mediapersons around the entire premises which has murals depicting the struggles of Kanshi Ram as well as his statue along with one of Mayawati herself as she is the "only inheritor of Kanshi Ram as per his will".
Out of the six former UP chief ministers asked to comply with a Supreme Court order, only Congress veteran Narayan Dutt Tiwari has not given up the government accommodation though the deadline set by the Estates Department to vacate the bungalows expired yesterday.
His wife Ujjwala Tiwari has sought more time from the estates department, pleading that her husband was in Delhi in the "last stages" of his life.
"He is bed-ridden for the past eight months and I am also not keeping well.
It is not practically possible for me to come down to Lucknow and vacate the premises," she told PTI.
A board reading 'Pandit Narain Dutt Tiwari Sarvjan Vikas Foundation' hangs outside Tiwari's Mall Avenue bungalow.
Mulayam Singh Yadav, his son Akhilesh Yadav had shifted to the VVIP guest house here after the apex court had on May 7 held that nobody was entitled to government accommodation as a former UP chief minister.
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who is also the local MP, has shifted from his bungalow at 4, Kalidas Marg, just next to Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's home, to his private residence on a 200-sqm plot in posh Gomti Nagar here.
Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh's belongings have been moved to the official bungalow of his grandson Sandeep Singh, who is a minister in the Adityanath government.
The Supreme Court's order came on a public interest litigation filed by NGO Lok Prahari following an amendment passed by the assembly to the UP Ministers (Salaries, Allowances and Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1981.
The amendment allowed all former chief ministers to occupy government bungalows for lifetime.
The apex court had observed that the amendment was arbitrary and violated the concept of equality.