New Delhi: At a time when the entire nation is mourning the death of one of India's most loved and popular presidents APJ Abdul Kalam, his immediate successor and another former president Pratibha Patil is once again in the news for wrong reasons.
According to media reports, she wants the Central government to foot her fuel bill, provide her an official vehicle and also allow her to use her private vehicle. The government rules clearly state that a former President can avail either fuel allowance if he or she uses own vehicle, or use a government vehicle.
In this case, she wants both for which the government needs to bend the rules. According to a report in ‘Deccan Herald’, Patil's office wants clearance from the Centre for using her personal car in her hometown Pune while the government foots the fuel bill and provides an official vehicle for travel out of town.
This dual facility, officials said, is not permissible as former Presidents cannot avail official car as well as fuel allowance.
After a series of correspondence with her office over the past three months, Union Home Ministry officials have now asked her to decide on opting for an official car for her use or fuel allowance instead of demanding both.
The controversy began with the withdrawal of the first official vehicle allotted to her as she did not like it. She demanded a bigger vehicle and as it was not allowed, she opted for fuel allowance.
Her office then started using her personal car and while she was travelling outside Pune, the district administration provided her the vehicle.
Sources say the Maharashtra government objected to her demand for official car and took up the matter with Union Home Ministry.
According to a senior Home Ministry official, they could not provide the dual facility as the rules governing former President's emoluments clearly state that an ex-president should be provided official car or fuel allowance.
Pratibha Patil is not new to controversies. Her own son and a former Congress MLA from Maharashtra had faced allegation when she was serving as President. Her own brother was also linked to an alleged murder.
When she demitted the office of President, she was accused of carting away the gifts she received as President of India. A Right to Information (RTI) query filed by Subhash Agarwal had revealed she had taken many expensive gifts given to her to her hometown Amravati when she was President .
In his application, Subhash Agarwal had said that the former President must return all the gifts to the Rashtrapati Bhawan. The gifts included a stone box given to her as a memento by US president Barack Obama in November 2010. Succumbing to pressure, she was forced to return the gifts.
Her desire for a land owned by the Army in Pune had also led to controversies. Her demands were in contrast with her predecessor Dr. Kalam who was happy with his old ambassador car for a long time. Many-a-times, he did not even use the air conditioner in the car.