Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai)

Priyanka, Puri spar over Lutyens’ house

- Anisha Dutta letters@hindustant­imes.com


NEW DELHI: Even as the Congress was desperatel­y scrambling to put its house in order in Rajasthan, it was involved in an exchange of words with a Union minister over another house -the one Priyanka Gandhi Vadra was asked to vacate by August 1.

On Tuesday, after a report in news agency IANS, said that Priyanka Gandhi had requested PM Narendra Modi for an extension beyond August 1, she said she would vacate her government bungalow at 35 Lodhi Estate in Lutyens’ Delhi within the stipulated one-month deadline. “This is FAKE NEWS. I have not made any such request to the government. As per the eviction letter handed to me on July 1, I will be vacating the government accommodat­ion at 35 Lodhi Estate by August 1,” she tweeted. Gandhi’s husband Robert Vadra also reiterated that the family had not asked for an extension and would vacate the bungalow a week before the deadline expires amid the raging coronaviru­s disease (Covid-19) outbreak.

But union housing minister Hardeep Puri said the government granted two months extension to Priyanka Gandhi on “good faith” after a senior Congress leader’s request.

“Facts speak for themselves! A powerful Congress leader with much clout in the party called me on July 4 at 12.05pm to request that 35, Lodhi Estate be allotted to another Congress MP so that Priyanka Gandhi-vadra can stay on. Let’s not sensationa­lise everything please,” Puri tweeted shortly after Gandhi took to social media to clarify her stand.

Priyanka Gandhi promptly responded, distancing herself from the request. “If someone called you Mr Puri, I thank them for their concern, and thank you for your considerat­ion as well but it still does not change the facts: I have made no such request, and I am making no such request,” she said.

Puri responded again: “The leader who called me, & many others, is at the very top of the Congress hierarchy...the same political advisor who speaks and acts on your family’s behalf. It was when he requested that we decided to give a two month extension in good faith. Would only request you to first sort out these issues within your own party before venting in public. Streak of entitlemen­t and playing victim don’t go well together.”

The identity of the leader who called Puri isn’t known.

On July 1, the Union ministry of housing and urban affairs cancelled the government accommodat­ion allocated to Gandhi on the ground that she is ineligible for the entitlemen­t, as she no longer enjoys the security cover of the Special Protection Group (SPG).

The ministry has already allotted her bungalow to BJP Rajya Sabha member and party spokespers­on, Anil Baluni.

“Dear Mr. Puri, Priyanka ji fights for the cause of people and need no favours from your ilk. So stop bragging unwarrante­dly. The issue is closed. And so that all know, did you allot 35, Lodhi Estate to a Congress MP or BJP Spokespers­on? So please stop sensationa­ling your lies,” Congress spokespers­on Randeep Surjewala tweeted.


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