Priyanka Gandhi Vadra's furious tweet about what she called "fake news" that she had requested more time to vacate her government bungalow ignited a nasty exchange on Twitter today as Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri alleged that a "powerful Congress leader, a political adviser" had indeed made such a request on her behalf. It was after that call that a two-month extension was granted to Priyanka Gandhi, the minister said.
Priyanka Gandhi, 48, was served notice on July 1 and asked to exit the 35, Lodhi Estate bungalow she had been staying in since 1997, on grounds that she was no longer eligible for a bungalow after her security cover was downgraded last year.
A news report suggested that she had been granted an extension on her request.
"This is FAKE NEWS. I have not made any such request to the government. As per the eviction letter handed to me on the 1st of July, I will be vacating the government accommodation at 35 Lodhi Estate by the 1st of August," she said in a tweet this morning.
Hardeep Puri, the Union Minister for Housing, retorted: "Facts speak for themselves! A powerful Congress leader with much clout in the Party called me on 4 July 2020 at 12:05 pm to request that 35, Lodhi Estate be allotted to another INC MP so that Priyanka Vadra can stay on. Let's not sensationalise everything please."
The back-and-forth escalated and Priyanka Gandhi replied: "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. As I said, I will be vacating the house by the 1st of August.. as required in the eviction letter."
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. As I said, I will be vacating the house by the 1st of August..1/2 https://t.co/jeHSZAf4MR— Priyanka Gandhi Vadra (@priyankagandhi) July 14, 2020
Mr Puri's reply came shortly afterwards and he left little to imagination as he described the so-called powerful Congress leader who he claimed had called him.
"The leader who called me, and 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," the minister tweeted.
"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," Mr Puri snapped.
The minister's tweet did not go unchallenged by the Congress either. Congress leader Randeep Surjewala tweeted: "Priyankaji 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 (sic)."
Priyanka Gandhi's husband Robert Vadra had also posted a denial on Facebook and said the family would leave a week before the deadline.
"This is completely incorrect!! We have not asked for any extension of stay. We were sent a notice on the 1st of July to leave in 30 days. We at a time of "Covid" have packed our entire household, and will leave a week before time," Mr Vadra wrote.