- Mayawati's Lucknow bungalow has 12 bedrooms, dressing rooms, 4 verandahs
- The bungalow has been lying vacant since May
- Though he denies it, Shivpal Yadav is seen to be gravitating to the BJP
Mayawati's colossal bungalow in Lucknow will go to Shivpal Yadav, who quit his family-run Samajwadi Party recently and is seen to be gravitating towards the ruling BJP, even though he denies it emphatically. The 6, Lal Bahadur Shastri Marg house, a towering legacy of Mayawati's years as Uttar Pradesh chief minister, has been vacant since May. The Supreme Court had ordered five former chief ministers, including Mayawati, to vacate their government bungalows.
Thanks to Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Shivpal Yadav, the estranged uncle of former chief minister Akhilesh Yadav, is the new occupant of the bungalow that has 12 bedrooms, 12 dressing rooms, four huge verandahs, two halls, kitchens, four security watch towers and staff quarters. There are eight AC plants and a 500 kilowatt sound proof generator for power back-up.
"I have a very small flat. I am a five-time MLA (legislator), a two-time minister, I am entitled to bigger government accommodation and I will need this," Shivpal Yadav told NDTV, denying that the bungalow was a reward from the BJP government for his attacks on nephew Akhilesh Yadav. He also claimed that there were intelligence reports of a threat to him.
After openly taking on Akhilesh, Shivpal Yadav launched his own party, the Samajwadi Secular Front, in August and declared that he would field candidates on all 80 parliamentary seats in next year's national election. He hasn't officially quit the Samajwadi party. Those close to him say he may use the bungalow to run his new outfit.
Yogi Adityanath's gesture is unlikely to pass off as a routine move. It is not clear yet whether Shivpal Yadav, who was a powerful minister in the previous Samajwadi government, is entitled to a chief minister's bungalow.
The Samajwadi Party rebel stressed: "We have always fought against BJP and will remain opposed to the BJP."
Shivpal Yadav, 63, the younger brother of Mulayam Singh Yadav, has been feeling sidelined in the party and is believed to have met with BJP leaders recently.
Known for his organizational skills, Shivpal Yadav is said to be on the BJP's radar as a solution to the threat that is the combined power of Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav. Since the UP rivals joined forces, the BJP hasn't won a single by-election in the state where it scooped up 73 seats in 2014.
Shivpal's presence could split the Mayawati-Akhilesh votes significantly, estimate some in the BJP.