Bihar’s 5-day former chief minister still retains official bungalow after 50 ye…

Fifty years ago, Satish Prasad Singh became Bihar’s chief minister. He occupied the office for five long days -from January 28 to February 1, 1968. As CM, he was allotted the bungalow number 33A, Harding Road as official residence.

Today, though Singh mostly lives in his private residence in Patna’s Kankarbagh, he has still retained the bungalow, now as living quarters for his staff.

His “entitlement” is now under the lens of the Patna high court, which has issued notice to the government and all such former CMs.

The issue had cropped up during the hearing of an appeal by opposition leader Tejashwi Prasad Yadav against an order by the single bench for him to vacate his official residence at 5, Deshratna Marg. The official residence was allotted to him when he was deputy CM.

The bench wondered as to why chief ministers should be given bungalows for a lifetime in the name of their safety. “Why should not the building construction department’s (BCD) executive order, issued on March 22, 2106, be struck down, since it smacks of unconstitutionality (ultra-vires)?,” the bench asked.

BCD officials said that CM Nitish Kumar might have to officially vacate his 7, Circular Road residence, which he was allotted after being replaced by Jitan Ram Manjhi in May 2014.

Although advocate general Lalit Kishore contended that Kumar had surrendered the bungalow after he shifted to 1 Anney Marg, his pleas didn’t satisfy the court.

Nitish Kumar first became chief minister in 2000 for seven days and is currently in the same post for the sixth time. He is a member of the legislative council and the 36th CM of Bihar.

Former CMs, Lalu Prasad and Rabri Devi may also have to vacate their spacious 10, Circular Road residence, if the High Court scraps the provision of free housing. Lalu Prasad, president of Rashtriya Janata Dal, was sworn in as CM in March 1990 and continued till July 1997, when he was convicted in a fodder scam case and forced to quit.

Rabri Devi, Lalu’s wife, took over as the CM after his husband went to the jail for the first time in the fodder scam. After a few breaks, she continued as CM till March 6, until Kumar replaced her.

Another former head of the Bihar state government, Jagannath Mishra is occupying 41, Kranti Marg (also known as Hardinge road), by virtue of holding the position of CM for three terms since April 1975. His last stint as the CM was between December 6, 1989 and March 10, 1990. Mishra was also among the accused in the fodder scam case.

Hindustani Awam Morcha chief Jitan Ram Manjhi, who served as CM for nine months, from May 20, 2014 to February 22, 2015 has been residing at 12, Stand Road even after he quit office.

First Published: Jan 09, 2019 12:01 IST

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