Should Meira Kumar get the better of Ram Nath Kovind in the presidential elections---- chances of that are as remote as June snowfall in Delhi----controversy will hound her right into the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
RTI activist Subhas Chandra Agrawal is getting set to ask the Union Government to regenerate and recover a rent-bill of Rs 1.98 crores due from Kumar, the UPA’s presidential candidate. The unpaid bills were due for utilities and rent for the sprawling bungalow at 6, Krishna Menon Marg in Lutyens’ Delhi.
Not only were the dues waived but, Agrawal's petition says, the bungalow was “kept forcibly and illegally occupied as an unofficial memorial of the late Babu Jagjivan Ram after the death of Indrani Devi, his widow.”
Agrawal learnt, in response to a query under the RTI, that the UPA government waived Rs 1.98 crore rent bill of former Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar for the 6 Krishna Menon Marg bungalow she occupied. The response from Directorate of Estates said subsequent to a CIC-verdict with both Directorate of Estates and the Lok Sabha Secretariat confirming a rent bill of Rs 1.98 crore against Kumar was cancelled, curiously enough, without any request on record. Given that, Agrawal, has in his petition demanded that the Central government should re-generate the rent-bill for recovery because the bungalow was "forcibly and illegally" occupied by Kumar. She had converted it into an unofficial memorial of late Babu Jagjivan Ram after the death of his wife, Smt Indrani Devi.
Worse, she was granted a 25-year lease on the bungalow, allowing her to squat on prime property in the middle of the sylvan and uppity part of the Capital until, hold your breath, 2038. Her father Jagjivan Ram, former deputy PM and Congress leader from the Dalit community, had lived in that bungalow until his death in 1986.
According to Agrawal, the UPA regime had allotted this bungalow to the Babu Jagjivan Ram Foundation in order to justify its decision to let the bungalow at Krishna Menon Marg remain occupied well after Jagjivan Ram's demise. Earlier, the Vajpayee government had prohibited any further conversion of government-bungalows in the Lutyens’ zone of New Delhi into memorials. However, the UPA government headed by Manmohan Singh had deliberately not allotted the bungalow to anyone officially for a prolonged period, he argued, so that it could allow the occupants to continue in the building without any legal glitches.
To make that act of the government appear further justified, prayer meetings were regularly held on the birth and death anniversaries of Babu Jagjivan Ram. However, none of these activities had the official permission of relevant authorities. In fact, Meira Kumar, at the time that she was Lok Sabha Speaker, had issued press releases for prayer meetings with impunity and invited top ranking government officials.
Agrawal, in his petition, noted that the Modi government had firmly turned down demands of Ajit Singh, son of Chowdhury Charan Singh, to convert 12 Tughlaq Road, also in Lutyens’ Delhi, into a memorial for his father. He has demanded that the government cancel the 25 year long lease-deed of 6 Krishna Menon Marg granted to Meira Kumar in 2013 which allows her to keep possession of the bungalow way past 2030.
Kumar was the last occupant of the bungalow as minister in the UPA I government in 2004. After she became Lok Sabha Speaker in 2009 in the UPA-2 regime, she moved home to the Speaker's residence at 20, Akbar Road. But she continued to occupy the Krishna Menon Marg bungalow, according to records kept by CPWD which is responsible for maintenance of government property.