Priyanka Gandhi Says Did Not Bargain For Rent With BJP Government
New Delhi: Priyanka Gandhi Vadra today said that she paid the same rent for her government accommodation in Lutyens’ Delhi as the others in the category, denying media reports claiming she convinced the Vajpayee government to reduce the rent.
The report claimed the rent for the bungalow she lives in was reduced from Rs. 53,421 to Rs. 8,888 in 2002 as it was “beyond her paying capacity”. Mrs Vadra said the rent was determined by the then BJP government.
A statement issued by her office said that in December 1996, Priyanka, the daughter of Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and an SPG protectee, had rented a private accommodation for her residence but was directed to occupy a government accommodation on security grounds.
The statement read, “In pursuance of all rules and regulations of the then BJP Government, the market rate/special license fee of Directorate of Estates, has been punctually and regularly paid by her for the entire duration of her occupation of the government accommodation, including the period in question.”
“The said rent that she paid was determined by the government and was the same as for others in her category,” it added.
The report had claimed Mrs Vadra managed to convince the Vajpayee government to reduce the monthly rent of her 2,765.18 sqm house in Lutyens’ Delhi.
The BJP today took a dig at Priyanka over the issue, saying it was “laughable” that she could afford building a bungalow in Himachal Pradesh and travelling abroad but found the rent money prohibitive.
Asked about Mrs Vadra’s statement, party secretary Shrikant Sharma said it might not be illegal but she sought “concessions” despite being capable of paying the rent.
Without going into specifics as to how much rent she paid, Mrs Vadra in the statement said that many protectees occupying government accommodation on security grounds brought to the notice of the then BJP Government that a 90 per cent increase, from one month to the next, in the year 2002 from “Market Rate/Special License Fee” to “Damages Rate” was “contrary to prevailing rules and regulations”.
Insisting that none of the said persons were unauthorised occupants of the premises, and that they were, in fact, “authorised occupants”, Mrs Vadra maintained that the “Damages Rate” did not apply to them.
“This error was subsequently corrected by the Cabinet Committee on Accommodation of the then BJP Government pursuant to a letter and a meeting between current BJP MP Ashwini Kumar (Minna) and the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee,” the statement added.
Currently, she pays Rs. 31,300 for accommodation in Type VI government house at 35, Lodhi Estate.