Did the centre really ask the Congress to vacate its headquarters?
Between February 19 and 20 several media agencies reported that the BJP-led government had asked Congress to vacate its headquarters among other bungalows in Delhi, but an RTI filed by activist Subhash Agrawal has revealed otherwise.Articles in The Times of India, DNA, IBN Live and Livemint mentioned that since the Congress party’s lease had expired on February 26, 2013, the party had been given time until June that year to vacate the properties. Congress, according to news reports, had applied to the Ministry of Urban Development for an extension. The outcome of that application was unclear and not mentioned in the RTI response. Other reports added that the government ordered for an eviction on January 22 this year.The result of the RTI application filed by Agrawal though has refuted this.The RTI response dated June 12, a copy of which exists with TNM mentioned that “No eviction notice has been issued to Congress Party for vacating government-bungalows”.The response added that no notice had been issued to the AICC “for vacating certain government accommodations in Delhi/New Delhi”.News reports mentioned that properties with the Congress party, which include “24, Akbar Road, the other three properties in Congress's possession include 26, Akbar Road; 5, Raisina Road and C-II/109 Chanakyapuri” faced eviction.However, the notice, which had been issued in January, seemed to say nothing of the sort. Image Courtesy: DNAA copy of the order sourced from DNA said that the cancellation of the allotted properties to the Congress was in effect from February 2013 and that the “Congress is liable to pay the damage rate of licence fee” for the period since then. However the notice did not mention that Congress would be evicted from the properties they have occupied. Livemint’s report added a reaction from the Congress party spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who said that “it is hardly a day since we have received it. The party will deal with very strongly and comprehensively.”Agrawal who shared his RTI via email said, “It proves that all political parties are united for their mutual interest like retaining government bungalows even after losing entitlement.”He added that “sufficient” time has been given for parties to make their own buildings. Agrawal also said that political parties are defying a CIC-verdict from June 2013 which asked for the use of government-accommodations by political parties to be abolished. He added that “Divisions-after divisions in Congress-party left its one time headquarters at 7 Jantar-Mantar Road (New Delhi) in very bad condition”.Agrawal said that the union and state governments should ensure the vacation of government-accommodations by political parties by giving them “reasonable time”. The RTI activist said that if compliance by political parties was not seen until the 2018 Lok Sabha polls, they should be “disqualified from contesting elections”.“Ministry of Urban Development should also take cognizance of Supreme Court in the matter SD Bandi vs Divisional Traffic Officer, KSRTC & others which specifically desired against over-occupation of government bungalows after one month of losing entitlement with a grace of maximum one more month,” he said.Here is Agrawal's RTI response: