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Jagmohan weeds out 'rootless politicians'

Jagmohan weeds out 'rootless politicians'

Harish Gupta
The Indian Express
April 15, 2000
Title: Jagmohan weeds out 'rootless politicians'
Author: Harish Gupta
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: April 15, 2000

After taking on the builder-bureaucrat mafia thriving in posh Delhi colonies and sending eviction squads after politicians overstaying in government bungalows, Union Urban Affairs Minister Jagmohan is now trying to rid Sapru House of what he calls 'rootless politicians'.

He has also told all political parties, including the BJP, to surrender all the government bungalows they are holding on to, except one for the party's office, before June 1.

A surprise check at Sapru House, which is located on prime property, apparently, revealed that the building was illegally occupied by the Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA). The Council had no locus standi except a stay against the building's takeover by the Government. But it was found that the occupants owed crores of rupees to the Urban Affairs Ministry and the latter had not acted to recover the amount.

A note put up by Jagmohan said, "Harcharan Singh Josh, who has manipulated to stay as president (of the ICWA) for the past 16 years, (has) managed the records and affairs of the ICWA so that most of the executive members are not even aware of what he is doing in its name. He is liable for civil and criminal action and he owes Rs 10 crore to the Government."

Headed for Paris as a minister-in-waiting to the President during his visit to France, Jagmohan is now set to hand over a series of cases to the CBI against 'corrupt' CPWD, DDA, MCD and government officials.

The massive operation that has been on for the past few days has jolted almost all political parties. The Congress will have to surrender 14 prime buildings which it occupies while the BJP will have to forego 13.

Jagmohan has also gone after bureaucrats and others who sub-let their official accommodation, either in full or part. Some of the bureaucrats at Pandara Road were found to have even sub-let garages. During one surprise search, Jagmohan was shocked to discover that a regular liquor selling business was being carried out from one such garage.

In another case, it was found that Rs 20,000 had been taken as pagri and a monthly rent of Rs 4,200 was being charged.

In all, it was found that 77 official houses given to bureaucrats and others on Pandara Road and Aram Bagh were being misused and the allotment is being cancelled in all such cases.

Jagmohan has recommended stringent measures against erring government servants living in these posh colonies. He wants that departmental action be initiated against all of them under the conduct rules and ordered that a vigilance inquiry be conducted against the field staff for not detecting the misuse prior to the receipt of the complaint.

In addition to charging them for their unauthorised stay, Jagmohan has made 240 top politicians vacate houses they were occupying illegally. When 77 of the politicians did not respond to the notices, he sent eviction squads to throw them out.

Among the 77 were former Haryana chief minister Bhajan Lal who refused to vacate a palatial bungalow opposite 10 Janpath and official spokesperson of the Congress Ajit Jogi who was thrown out of a Shahjahan Road duplex flat. Later, Jogi moved into the house allotted to M K Suba, another party MP, on Talkatora Road. Sonia loyalist P J Kurien, who lost his Lok Sabha seat, was the next to face the squad.

Jagmohan did not spare his own party colleague and former cricketer Chetan Chauhan either. N Bhaskara Roa, Akbar Dumpy Ahmed, Taslimuddin and Omak Apang were among those who faced the eviction squad.

While Sonia need not worry as she has become an MP, Kushabhau Thakre will require a special favour from the government to stay at AB-19, Tilak Marg, as he is not an MP.

Congress will be able to retain 24, Akbar Road and the BJP 11, Ashok Road for their offices. 23 other premises they have been squatting on for years will have to be vacated.

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