KATHMANDU, March 26: The government has been providing official residences to sitting ministers at the Ministers' Quarters in Pulchowk since the Panchayat era. But as the number of ministers rose significantly after the restoration of the multi-party democratic system, particularly after the political changes in 2006, not all ministers have been lucky enough to get an official residence in the ministerial quarters, forcing some of them to either stay in their private houses or live in rented apartments, whose cost, of course, is borne by the state.
The newly-appointed Minister of State for Communication and Information Technology, Gokul Banskota is one among the ministers not getting a residence at Pulchowk. He was desperately looking for a suitable house, where the security personnel deployed for his security, too, could be accommodated as his house proved too small. A resident of Balkot in Bhaktapur, Minister Banskota's aides tried to look for a suitable apartment for rent for days, but to no avail.
Frustrated already by not getting a suitable apartment, State Minister Banskota started thinking of possible alternatives. And, a new idea struck his mind to solve the problem of his accommodation.
Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli's private residence in his neighborhood was lying vacant after Oli shifted to his official residence in Baluwatar. He was not sure of Prime Minister's intention if he was willing to allow him to stay in his house, but decided to talk to him anyway.
Banskota talked to PM Oli and received a positive response. On Sunday, Minister Banskota moved into Prime Minister Oli's private residence in Balkot with a mutual understanding that Minister Banskota won't claim the apartment allowance from the state coffers as Prime Minister Oli won't be charging him any rent.
Minister Banskota's aide Nawaraj Dhakal said the minister started living in Oli's residence from Sunday. “The house was lying vacant after the prime minister shifted to Baluwatar. We have started living here,” he said.
Minister Banskota did not have to bring many things in his new residence as it was almost fully furnished. Banskota will be in Oli's house as long as Oli remains in the Prime Minister's Office.
Banskota, who is seen as a close confidante of Oli, hails from Mandan Deupur Municipality in Kavre district. He had received the highest number of popular votes after Oli in the recently held parliamentary elections.