Lucknow: Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati are not ready to move out of their palatial government-allotted homes in Lucknow just yet. The two former chief ministers of Uttar Pradesh have their own reasons.
Akhilesh Yadav has written to the state government claiming he has no other place to stay for now, given the requirements of his family and his large security detail. He has requested permission to retain his Vikramaditya Road bungalow for two more years. A third chief minister also stays next door - Akhilesh's father Mulayam Singh Yadav.
"There are many people in Lucknow who are willing to offer their homes to us. But he is a big leader and there are protocols. As soon as something is in place, he will certainly move out," said Samajwadi Party leader Sunil Singh.
As for Mayawati, she does have a private bungalow to move into, on the same Mall Avenue road. Sources say she bought it a few years ago. It is almost as big as her official home - a five acre, 10-bedroom house made of Rajasthan sandstone and pink marble.
But one new feature outside her government bungalow has led to the impression that she wouldn't mind hanging on to the home she refurbished at the cost of crores. A new board put up outside the bungalow says "Shri Kanshi Ramji Yaadgaar Vishram Sthal" - referring to Mayawati's mentor Kanshi Ram, the founder of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).
Sources say the BSP leader is hoping to get the Yogi Adityanath government to turn the building into a memorial for the Dalit icon, so that the keys will remain with her. It will be hard to reject an idea like that in a year of elections leading up to the national polls.
The UP government last week served notice to Mayawati, Akhilesh Yadav and four other former chief ministers asking them to vacate their official homes in 15 days as ordered by the Supreme Court.
"We respect Kanshi Ram but if his name is used for wrong reasons that is not correct. Mayawati is living there, if this is a memorial then she should not have been living here right?" questioned UP minister Sidharth Nath Singh. He quipped, "I think people like Mayawati and Akhilesh love homes and land a lot."
The Supreme Court earlier cancelled changes to a law that enabled former chief ministers of Uttar Pradesh to live in official homes for life, saying that these were "based on irrelevant and legally unacceptable considerations, unsupported by any constitutional sanctity. The local laws gave these benefits to former chief ministers without any element of reasonableness."
The amendments by the previous Akhilesh Yadav government in 2016 entitled five ex-chief ministers, Rajnath Singh, Rajasthan Governor Kalyan Singh, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Mayawati and ND Tiwari to government bungalows. The changes were "arbitrary and discriminatory" and violated the concept of equality, Supreme Court judges said.