LUCKNOW: Plush bungalows with beautiful lawns that look like green carpet are the stuff of dreams. However, such palatial properties can be more than useful in winning over allies. Look no further than the BJP which is using ‘bungalow diplomacy’ for obliging political leaders, who, it thinks, can be useful in curtailing the impact of a possible SP-BSP alliance.
Former senior Samajwadi Party leader Shivpal Yadav was the first to benefit from the ruling party’s largesse in Uttar Pradesh ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Shivpal made a Samajwadi Secular Morcha within the SP and then floated his own Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party Lohia. Soon, the UP government allotted him the 6, Lal Bahadur Shatri Marg bungalow vacated by BSP chief Mayawati.
“One reason which comes to mind is that the BJP wants to keep Shivpal pleased in order to widen the rift in the Yadav family ahead of the elections,” said a senior SP leader.
Deputy CM Keshav Maurya had suggested Shivpal recently to merge his party with the BJP. Political scientists feel Shivpal falling apart from the SP leadership will help the BJP in 2019. But, political observer Ashutosh Mishra feels otherwise. “He was relevant till he was with the SP,” he said.
Another beneficiary is Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhaiyya, who was a minister in both BJP and SP regimes. The five-time Independent MLA from Kunda got a bungalow vacated by Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav.
Once, a close aide of SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav, Raja Bhaiyya did not go along well with Akhilesh. He went on to vote in favour of the BJP candidate during the Rajya Sabha election. The bonhomie of Akhilesh and Mayawati was the last nail in the coffin, as the BSP supremo had sent him to jail. Closed to prominent Thakur leaders of the BJP, Raghuraj is on way to launch his Jansatta Party.
Moreover, the UP government allotted the bungalow vacated by former chief minister late ND Tiwari in Mall Avenue to Apna Dal national president Ashish Singh Patel. Singh is the husband of Union minister of state for health and family welfare Anupriya Patel. The Apna Dal, a BJP ally, has considerable influence over Kurmi voters in Varanasi and its adjoining districts.
Earlier this year, former CMs ND Tiwari, Rajnath Singh, Kalyan Singh, Mayawati, Akhilesh and Mulayam had vacated their government accommodations in compliance with a Supreme Court order.
On the contrary, the estate department is cracking down onthe likes of the Nationalist Congress Party, the Communist Party of India and the Rashtriya Janata Dal, asking them to vacate the bungalows and premises allotted to run their party offices. According to a senior officer, some of these beneficiaries had not paid rent for years.
Fishing for friends ahead of 2019 Lok Sabha polls
Former minister Raja Bhaiyya (top) got a bungalow, which was vacated by ex-CM Akhilesh Yadav. Senior Samajwadi Party leader Shivpal Yadav (left), who floated a new party after his bitter split with the SP, was allotted a bungalow by the UP goverment at 6, Lal Bahadur Shastri Marg. The bungalow
was recently vacated by former chief minister and BSP chief Mayawati