Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
The danger of consecration of a sycophant as President of India by the party of the Prime Minister is not yet studied at all. But, looking at Prativa Patil, predecessor of Pranab Mukherjee in the august office, one becomes sure that a brownnoser becoming the highest office-holder does not change her/his basic habit of self-seeking.
She was picked up for the top post because of Sonia Gandhi’s preference when India was in such utter confusion that despite acts of subterfuge resorted to by its own Prime Minister against the basic purpose of the constitution, the country was not being able to get rid of Manmohan Singh.
And, in office, she misused her position so mischievously against democracy that the Parliament should have acted correct if she could have been impeached. A click here may throw necessary light on this phenomenon.
It is well know, how, while holding the highest post of authority over the Armed Forces by virtue of being the President, she had tried to appropriate a vast stretch of around 2.6 lakh sq feet of land within the Khadki cantonment in Pune and to get constructed there a house with a plinth area of 4,500 sq feet that she should have used as her post-retirement home.
She was forced to surrender the said land as public outcry reached the sky after a retired Lt Col Suresh Patil openly objected to the heinous design. Yet she had argued for a home to be built for her by the central government, oblivious of the tradition of an outgoing President gracefully accepting any accommodation the government offers at Delhi for post-retirement stay or shifting to own house in the home state.
Even after relinquishing the post of President, she has been attracting attention for acts not expected of a former President. The instance I am going to cite is an indicator.
Before shifting to Pune, during her short stay at Delhi after leaving the Rastrapati Bhawan, she was given a car for her use by the Delhi Police out of courtesy. It was an old but a bulletproof Ambassador. She should have surrendered the same car to Delhi Police after reaching Pune. But she did not. That car is in her private use. She sent it to the Motor and Transport department of Pune Police for repair in December 2013. Out of respect for a former President, the Pune police did the minor repairs and return the vehicle to her with a note that it requires replacement of a spare part, which legally they cannot do, as the car belongs to Delhi Police. Ms. Patil got the replacement done in a private garage and charged Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, with Rs. Rs.4,865/-. For reimbursement of the cost of repair of the car. The MoHA sent her bill to the Delhi Police as the car belongs to them for reimbursement, if possible, at their end.
She has been pestering the Central Government since December 13, 2013 over this paltry sum of money that she wants reimbursed.
To the bewilderment of Delhi Police, the bill is also inflated as the price of the spare part is less than what is charged. The Delhi Police is in a predicament as it is difficult to pay against a visibly inflated bill.
One feels ashamed of a former President pestering the State for official payment of a paltry sum of money she has spent on minor repair of a car she is using for private purpose.
But, as is seen, she is in the habit of putting pressure on the exchequer for defraying expenditures made by her in private circles.
Even when she was the President of India, her belonging to her family was more conspicuous than that to the nation.
She had made the exchequer cough up a huge sum of Rs.205 crores for the jaunts she was entertaining her family members with, under pretence of her official tours to foreign countries.
Despite attempts made to hide how she had used her position to show her family members that she was such great that indulging in extravagance with official money was within the ambit of her privileges, data obtained through RTI reveales that she had caused Air India incur about Rs.169 crores on chartered Boeing 747-400 aircraft in her foreign visits designed to entertain mainly her family members.
On accounts of accommodation, daily allowances, local travels and “miscellaneous” expenses, according to the information obtained under RTI, a further sum of about Rs 36 crore has been incurred by the Ministry of External Affairs in her family-centric foreign tours.
It is her belonging to her family, not to the nation, that had forced the Exchequer cough up such huge sums of money time and again.
Had a true patriot, a real responsible citizen, without any party affiliation, but with discernible devotion to sovereignty of the people backed by outstanding contributions to the country in areas of education, defense, law and social justice, could have been preferred for the august office of the President, such embarrassing moments for the nation would never have come.
The MoHA and/or the Delhi Police would do well by rejecting Patil’s unethical claim for reimbursement of the amount she has spent on repair of a vehicle she is using in her private works.
It is time to take stiff steps to stop misuse of exchequer by fellows like Prativa Patil, howsoever small the amount is. The nasty scenario created by Patil needs be discouraged.