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Gujral begins hunt for a house - The Times Of India

Inder Sawhney ()
March 7,1998

Title: Gujral begins hunt for a house
Author: Inder Sawhney
Publication: The Times Of India
Date: March 7,1998

Prime Minister I.K. Gujral has started hunting for a house,
despite his earlier statement that he is keeping his Maharani
Bagh bungalow vacant so that he can occupy it when he vacates 7,
Race Course, which is now the official residence of the Prime

However, it appears that Mr Gujral, who lived on Race Course for
about eight months, has developed a special liking for this
prestigious road. His eyes are set on 1, Race Course, which is
presently occupied by minister for water resources Sis Ram Ola.
Incidentally, 1 Race Course and the Prime Minister's residence,
which includes bungalows 3 and 5, have a common wall.

Mr Ola, who has been re-elected from Jhunhunu, was surprised to
receive a letter from assistant director of estates, ministry of
urban affairs and employment on March 3, the day the Lok Sabha
results were announced. The letter stated that bungalow number 2
on Akbar Road had been allotted to Mr Ola in lieu of his existing
accommodation (1, Race Course).

Both bungalows - 2, Akbar Road and 1, Race Course - are in type
VIII category. Enquiries with the urban development ministry
indicated that 1, Race Course had been allotted to Mr Gujral in
his capacity as a former prime minister.

It is learnt that Mr Gujral's wife and son had visited 1, Race
Course, some time last month when Mr Ola was away to Jhunjhunu
for electioneering. Principal secretary to Mr Gujral N.N. Vora
was also trying frantically to contact Mr Ola, presumably to
convey to him the Prime Minister's desire to shift to his
bungalow. This week, men from the horticulture department landed
on 1, Race Course in strength for clearing the bushes and doing
up the sprawling lawn.

The letter received by Mr Ola specified that he should convey his
acceptance to vacate his bungalow within five days from its
receipt - March 8. However, Mr Ola is not prepared to vacate his
bungalow. A source in the urban development ministry indicated
that the letter to Mr Ola was sent on the instructions from the
Prime Minister's Office on the presumption that Mr Ola may not he
re-elected. If Mr Ola had been defeated he had no alternative
but to vacate the bungalow.

The source said that another bungalow under consideration for use
of Mr Gujral was bungalow number 8, Tees January Marg, which is
presently occupied by minister for textiles R.L. Jallapa. Will
the textile minister oblige Mr Gujral is a million dollar
question. Mr Jallapa was elected from Chikballapur as a
candidate of the Janata Dal (the prime minister's party) in the
1996 Lok Sabha election. But this time he has been elected from
the same constituency on the Congress ticket.

Meanwhile, the 300-odd new members of the Lok Sabha, who have
begun arriving here, are being housed, for the most part, in the
various state bhavans. The government-run Lodhi Hotel is also
ready to handle any overflow, say officials of the Lok Sabha
secretariat. The accommodation provided will have to serve for
the better part of the next three months, since allotments will
have to wait for both, vacation by the many new former MPs and
constitution of the house-allotment panel of the Lok Sabha.

Room 62 of Parliament House, the single-stop for an arriving MPs
needs, was occupied through the day on Friday with elected MPs
coming, one after the other, to fill the various forms entitling
them to identity cards, telephone connections, rail passes
parliament papers and so forth. And, for first -timers some
geographical preference for regular housing - an apartment in
North Block or South Block and so on.

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