After Centre asks to vacate Delhi bungalow, Priyanka Gandhi set to shift to Lucknow
Lucknow, July 02: The government order asking Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra to vacate a Delhi bungalow is set to speed up her shifting base to Lucknow, where party veteran Sheila Kaul's house was renovated months back for her, according to politicians here.
"Work has started in the house today. It has been almost six months since the renovation was done and it is being spruced up further to suit her," party legislator Deepak Singh said here on Thursday.
Uttar Pradesh Congress spokesperson Lalan Kumar indicated that the decision was made even before she got the notice to vacate the government bungalow in Delhi. "Priyanka Gandhi is in-charge of the state and it was decided six months ago that she had to shift her base to Lucknow," the Congress media cell convenor said.
"The Kaul house has been renovated as per her requirements and she had also stayed there for three days in the past," he added.
The Centre on Wednesday asked Priyanka Gandhi to vacate her bungalow in Lutyens' Delhi within a month, following the withdrawal of the Special Protection Group (SPG) cover for her.
"Even if she had not been served notice, she would have shifted her base to Lucknow. She would be staying in Uttar Pradesh for 20 to 22 days a month. It was decided six months ago," Lalan Kumar said.
He said it was also decided that the Congress general secretary would undertake extensive tours of the state, making the state capital her base. Last year, during her Lucknow visit on October 2 to participate in the Gandhi Jayanti march, Priyanka Gandhi visited the house and spent some time there.
The house is lying vacant at present with no one from the Kaul family using it.
Sheila Kaul, who died in 2015, was the sister-in-law of India's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru. She had been a Union minister and a governor. Her house is located on Gokhle Marg in Lucknow, about three kilometres from the Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee headquarters.
When Priyanka Gandhi was appointed Congress general secretary in charge of eastern Uttar Pradesh ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the then party president Rahul Gandhi had said his sister has been given the responsibility as part of a long-term plan.
"She hasn't been sent there for four months, she has been sent there with a larger plan. We will not only defeat the BJP in 2019 but also win the 2022 elections," he said, referring to the next assembly elections.
The Centre in November replaced the SPG cover for Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her children Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra with Z-plus security by the CRPF. This arrangement does allow her to retain any government accommodation and she has to vacate the 35, Lodhi Estate bungalow, officials said.
According to a notice issued by the Union Housing and Urban Affairs Ministry, she has to vacate the bungalow by August 1, failing which "it will attract damage charges/penal rent as per rules".