Sunil Jakhar: Allotted two official residences but living in own house

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The Leader of Opposition in Punjab, Sunil Jakhar, has been allotted two official residences, but he still lives in his own house in Panchkula.

More than seven months ago, the Punjab government had allotted house number 46 in Sector 2 to Sunil when he became the Leader of Opposition. It was in 1977 that the then Akali Dal government headed by Parkash Singh Badal had accorded the status of a Cabinet minister to the Leader of Opposition. At that time, Balram Jakhar, the father of Sunil Jakhar, was the Leader of Opposition, and he was allotted a house and given an official vehicle.

Since this house was allotted to Sunil by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, he has been unable to take its possession as the former Leader of Opposition Rajinder Kaur Bhattal has not vacated it. So, Sunil has been living in his private one-kanal residence in Sector 6, Panchkula.

Sources said after Sunil approached Punjab Governor and UT Administrator Shiv Raj Patil, it was decided that house number 500 in Sector 16, Chandigarh, be allotted to him. This house was earlier allotted to the then Punjab DGP P S Gill. The administration decided that this house be put in the Punjab Chief Minister's house pool to be further allotted to the Leader of Opposition.

"Now Sunil Jakhar has been officially allotted two houses, one in Sector 2 and the other in Sector 16, as the state government has not cancelled the earlier allotment of Sector 2 house to him. But Sector 2 house is still occupied by Bhattal and Sector 16 house has been vandalised and needs repairs before one can move in,'' said an official.

It is learnt that Sunil has conveyed to Patil that he does not want the Sector 16 house after all the vandalism, and wants that Bhattal should vacate the house allotted to him earlier.

"The other question is that how can a UT Administrator allot a house to the Leader of Opposition as it is to be allotted by the Chief Minister from his house pool. The UT Administrator can allot houses to the officers and dignitaries of administration, and not Punjab and Haryana. The best the administration can do is that transfer a particular house to Punjab pool. To whom it is to be allotted will be decided by the state government. So, it is clear that Patil overstepped his brief,'' said an insider.

In the Sector 2 house, Bhattal has been living for the last 19 years and it has a swimming pool and other facilities. On the Sector 16 house, a total of Rs 1.16 crore was spent by UT Administration and the Punjab Police Housing Corporation.

And Bhattal cries political vendetta

A day after the Punjab government issued former chief minister and leader of the opposition Rajinder Kaur Bhattal a notice to vacate the official house, the Congress leader said she was being victimized.

Addressing media persons at her residence here on Sunday, Bhattal said forcing her out of her house amounted to political victimization and it is one in the series of tribulations that the Badal government had put her through.

"I have been slapped with two false cases, both during Badal's regime as the chief minister. Now the latest tool of oppression they are using against me is to throw me out of my house," she said. Bhattal, who has been reduced to being an MLA after Sunil Jakhar replaced her as the new Leader of the Opposition, has been asked to vacate the house that was allotted to her 20 years ago by the state government.

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