Who knew Priyanka Gandhi was just like us? You know, the kind who would have nightmares about paying rent on time? After all, she hails from one of the country's most powerful political families and is married to a prosperous business family as claimed by her husband.
Yet, she found it difficult to pay a rent of over Rs 50,000 for a Delhi property which measures nearly 2,700 square feet. A report on The Times Of India says, "The late PM Rajiv Gandhi's and Congress president Sonia Gandhi's daughter Priyanka Gandhi Vadra proved to be a tough negotiator 14 years ago, getting the Vajpayee government to pare down the monthly rent to her sprawling 2,765.18 sqm house in Lutyens' Delhi from Rs 53,421 to a mere Rs 8,888. She said it was "beyond her capacity to pay the high amount". Rs 8,888 was the special licensing fee for the bungalow and was a part of the rent.
In May 2002, Priyanka Gandhi had appealed to the Vajpayee government that she was not staying in the government bungalow on Lutyens out of choice, but because of security concerns. She also said that most of the house was occupied by Special Protection Group (SPG) personnel and not her family. In view of that, she requested the government to exempt her from paying a revised rent of Rs 53,421 for the bungalow.
The information was acquired by Noida resident Dev Ashish Bhattacharya through an RTI application.
File entries from the ministry of urban development's directorate of estates documents a request from Gandhi from 14 years back, saying, "continue to pay rent at the earlier rate of Rs 28,451 per month, instead of the increased rate of Rs 53,421 per month".
Gandhi, along with three other individuals - Punjab DGP KPS Gill, All India Anti-Terrorist Front chief M S Bitta and Punjab Kesari editor Ashwani - had been extended government accommodation on security considerations. Gandhi currently pays a rent of Rs 31,300 for a type VI government bungalow.
"The house was allotted to Priyanka, a private citizen, on the recommendations of the SPG, cabinet secretariat and the home ministry in 1997," the report states.
It also says that the rent of the house on 35 Lodhi Esatate that Priyanka Gandhi occupies, is over Rs 80,000 according to a very conservative estimation. Houses in Jor Bagh area - in the vicinity of Lodhi Estate - don't come for anything less than Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 4 Lakh a month as rent.
In May 2014, shortly after Narendra Modi was elected as the Prime Minister, Priyanka Gandhi had famously asked the government to withdraw the no-frisking privileges she enjoys at airports. Gandhi's declaration came after reports in the media suggested that the new government was considering withdrawing her husband Robert Vadra's name from of the list of individuals who can skip security checks at airports. She had written to the SGP appealing them to withdraw similar privileges extended to her family. She also reportedly asked for her security cover to be withdrawn.
However, the government refused to do any such thing and senior officials told the media that the Gandhi family members continuously remain under serious security threat.
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