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Updated: April 28, 2012 00:25 IST

Pained Pratibha gives up Pune retirement home

Smriti Kak Ramachandran
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President Pratibha Patil
PTI
President Pratibha Patil

The President opts to not avail it as the issue had got linked to war widows accommodation

President Pratibha Patil on Friday wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh about her decision not to move into what would have been her post-retirement accommodation in Pune. Her office said she was “pained” at allegations of her taking over land meant for “war widows” and “distortion of facts by the media.”

A controversy had broken out over the choice of land, owned by the Defence Ministry, and the scale on which the residence was being readied. An organisation of ex-servicemen in Pune had claimed that two British-era buildings would be knocked down to accommodate the building. Also, it said, the land was earmarked for war widows, an accusation the President's office claimed “led to a spiralling media attack.”

Negative reports

On Friday, the President's Office said: “She is deeply pained by the allegations about the land-grab. The negative reports about her post-retirement home were distressing and she has decided to forego her accommodation in Pune.”

“The President has not decided yet where her post-retirement home will be. She has just written to the Prime Minister her decision to forego the Pune accommodation,” an official said.

In a statement, the President's Office rebutted allegations that the land was identified for war widows, and cited examples of Ms. Patil's assistance to women and war widows in particular.

“The President has been reading and watching the unfolding of some fallacious observations regarding the accommodation in Pune, which she was to occupy after relinquishing the office of President. She chose not to react as she has always held herself answerable to the Constitution and her conscience. It was expected that once the facts were made public it would convince the concerned people. But despite clarifications given by the President's Secretariat, it is unfortunate that the misgivings continue to persist …” the statement read.

“…What has pained the President the most is the fact that she is now being portrayed by some people as one who, by agreeing to accept a defence accommodation for her post-retirement home, is insensitive to the cause of war widows and ex-servicemen. But facts are to the contrary,” the statement said.

To substantiate her concern for war widows, the statement included instances and media reports of how the President intervened and instructed various government agencies to take affirmative action. A case in point is that she, as Rajasthan Governor, instructed all District Collectors to inform her regularly of the progress in resolving the problems of war widows and that she ensured that the newly constructed ‘War Widows Hostel and Rehabilitation Centre' in Jaipur was allocated Rs. 2 crore from the Amalgamated Fund of the Governor.

The President's Office censured the media for continually running “programmes and polls” on the issue and “refusing to accept the clarification that was issued over the controversy.”

“Even after it was explained that the land owning agency will be the Ministry of Defence and that the land was never indicated as one earmarked for war widows, there was no end to the fallacious reportage. The President's Secretariat had made it clear that the land to be allotted to her was for use as her post-retirement residence only during her lifetime with no rights of ownership, transfer lease, etc.,” pointed out the official.

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from:  Your Name
Posted on: May 4, 2012 at 17:19 IST

I am awe stuck at the release by President's secretariat. Does the PRO think that whole world is foolish enough to accept what she said on media. The President had no time for ex servicemen all during 5 years despite blood inked appeals. But she remembered defence land to build a "Palace" and occupy astronomical area for retirement home. I do not recall her contributing as Supreme Commander to the cause of defence services except to remain a mute spectator and go on foreign jaunts with an entourage which would put anyone to shame. Even in a normal marriage, least number of members represent from a family and always carry a gift which she too must have carried but at the cost of exchequer. Sorry, Madam President, majority is not with you and have bought the arguments put forth by your staff on media. You had a gala time and entertained all your near and dear ones without any qualms or learning from your predecessor, Mr KALAAM.

from:  Wg Cdr DK Bhardwaj
Posted on: Apr 29, 2012 at 14:13 IST

Ex.president of America Mr.Jimmy Carter, after his retirement is engaging himself on world peace and doing service to humanity.In india no govt. srevant is given free house for his humble service for over 35 years.We say all are equal before the eyes of law.TheFirst citizen of Govt.of India should set a good example of herself.A commission should be set to find out misuse of powers by the President of india and recovery of misused amount should be made within a stipulated time frame. Let us not waste money on such people in future.

from:  v.balasubramanian
Posted on: Apr 29, 2012 at 09:19 IST

This could happen just because of the great tool RTI act that we as citizens have. Hope the awareness of this act will help public warn the politicians that all is not that well for them if they want to make fortunes the wrong way.

from:  rrk
Posted on: Apr 29, 2012 at 07:45 IST

Our President is gracious enough in surrendering the defense land
allotted to her in Pune. It is great act of sacrifice and she did
without any "negative reports "in the media, without waiting for the "WHISTLE-BLOWER" to comment on it and without our PM bringing this to her notice-- With out any pressure from any one she herself came forward
and surrendered the land. What an act of righteousness? She has made us very proud and we should confer our foremost civilian award"Bharat Ratna" for this act alone. She deserves this unquestionably.

from:  Librawalla
Posted on: Apr 29, 2012 at 07:38 IST

As it is, we give her 22.5 crore per annum for her "upkeep". After retirement, she is entitled to 9 lakh per annum pension. And this is a
general calculation, not taking into account her expenses incurred "on
duty". Where were the funds for her house coming from?
Besides why does the President of a country where so many live under
tarpaulin sheets hoisted on sticks need a palatial mansion to live in
after she's retired and pretty well useless to us?

from:  Aritra Gupta
Posted on: Apr 29, 2012 at 04:51 IST

the highest office of the country has been degenerating by the
foolish acts of the people like Prathibha patil. Man's greed should
have a limit. what are the achievement by her in the last five years
when held the office.DO we need a rubber stamp or a person capable of
handling the post well. We salute our presidents like Dr.radhakrishnan, Abdul kalam who added prestige to the post. She has slept on files for all these years.she has enjoyed the foreign trips at the cost of the millions of the poor in this country. future generation will never pardon these people.

from:  trsubramanian
Posted on: Apr 28, 2012 at 21:10 IST

I wonder what makes her 'pained'.Bad press! Did it pain her in the least bit when ex-servicemen signed petitions in blood and returned their medals - a valuable possession which veterans cherish till their dying day and is placed on them for their last journey. It was the ultimate expression of anguish and disgust which went unheeded. How long will the corrupt petty politician who is elected by us to serve us continue to 'lord it' over us and loot our country? When will peoples' opinion and power prevail?

from:  Mahendra Taneja
Posted on: Apr 28, 2012 at 20:55 IST

You're pained by the media reports, Ms. President? We citizens are also
equally pained by the reports of large-scale corruption among your
family members and your own ostentatious lifestyle at the expense of Indian taxpayers. You're brought nothing but disgrace to the office of the president.

from:  R. Bhunaveshwari
Posted on: Apr 28, 2012 at 19:20 IST

Not in India alone, In all the poor countries like Bangladesh also there are rich rulers. They build up their fortunes at the cost of common people's labour,sweat and blood.We find the politicians of all shades of opinion make money whether they are in power or not. I don't even understand how a man involving himself in politics become rich without doing any tangible productive activity or contributing to national growth. This is a great mystery to me. Can anybody give me a clear idea about doing politics and becoming rich overnight.

from:  A.K.M. Raisul Huq Bahar
Posted on: Apr 28, 2012 at 18:05 IST

I read through all the comments here. 95% of comments here represent
the anguish which we feel when we see ourselves getting looted by
these tactics of government. Even President of India wants to just get
cozy retirement home and loot the exchequer, then what can be said
about others. Ms Pratibha Patil, apart from making wasteful foreign
trips and keeping mum on various scandals (one of her son included in
that scandal list), has done precious little for betterment of nation.
When she assumed office, everyone asked 'Pratibha Patil .. who?? ' and
today after 4-5 years we are still asking ourselves .. 'Pratibha Patil
... why???'. We Indians, couldn't be happier seeing you retire Ma'am
and wish you nice retirement life (away from Pune), Thank you!!

from:  Shrenik Jain
Posted on: Apr 28, 2012 at 14:45 IST

Although I would praise Ms Patil to at last take cognizance of popular
sentiments which, to her dismay, are totally against showering any
more favours upon her person. While it is belated good move, I would
still maintain that she should apologize to nation for denigrating the
office of President of India. Her son was caught with one crore rupees
by Police and that scandal was hastily swept away. While we may be
corrupt to the core, we do expect certain dignity from the President
of India, Supreme Commander of all our armed forces. If Welfare
Committee to Jawans, which ostensibly opposed government largesse of
residence to outgoing President, then she had no other option but to
distance herself away from Pune retirement home. She got enough money
to settle on her own. I don't pity her the least.

from:  Shrenik Jain
Posted on: Apr 28, 2012 at 14:29 IST

Building a residence in an area of 250000 sq ft, if NDTV reports are to be relied upon in India's costliest city Pune? Our honorable President must do some soul searching and come out clean. it is not enough to white wash the issue saying that she was not aware that the land is meant for war widows. That is not the real issue. the issue is using prime govt property for personal use and that too such a large area. Hats off to the whistle blower and the RTI act.
We wish that our newspaper also picks up some courage to flog the politicians whenever they indulge in such malpractise.

from:  P.G.RAVIKUMAR
Posted on: Apr 28, 2012 at 14:17 IST

'The Hindu' has done a great national service by publishing this news item which has generated huge comments from learned readers. These comments must be forwarded to the President to know the peoples view. The news paper should henceforth publish news on all the Honourable Parliamentarians and Ministers so that public have a chance to know things better and respond effectively. India must change for better.

from:  Vyas K Susarla
Posted on: Apr 28, 2012 at 13:10 IST

Prathibha Patil has been very consistent in her behavior from the beginning....If India wants to forget about one of our presidents in future, it will be she. But, everyone knew about what kind of person she has been and even after that they elected her as president. So, we have to blame ourselves again. In general, NETAS are busy with unholy give-and-take among themselves and only fraction of this gets noticed (thru media, RTI etc.) Hope we get great president this time (wont say, better than Prathibha Patil, becuase that is like setting real-real-low-standard )

from:  ram
Posted on: Apr 28, 2012 at 12:41 IST

The president's office is boasting about the Rs 2crore allocation for the war widows hostel. What explanation can they give regarding the Rs 200crore spent by the president's office for her international visits along with her relatives? It's really disgusting. She could've cut short the number of relatives during her international visits or decided not to spend public money/property for her retirement life and made arrangements for that money to be used for the welfare of citizens or the country.

from:  Midhun Kailas
Posted on: Apr 28, 2012 at 12:05 IST

Pratibha is known for controvertial land deals even before and it is
natural that she is pained at losing a prime property she wanted to grab
for her services to congress since she did nothing to Nation as president. Did Abdul Kalam get a bundlow in five acre land?To that matter how many retired presidents got palatial buildings post retirement.Politicians want to loot even after quitting an office while many poor live on foot paths and below railway bridges.

from:  N Kumaraswamy
Posted on: Apr 28, 2012 at 11:46 IST

It really is a victory of RTI activists and other whistle- blowers of Pune. However, the question is, one Mr. Ankalesaria who was arbitrarily evicted from the said property which he was rightfully occupying, - wheather the land will be returned to him. Media reports have mentioned that half the building work of a palacial house is already done on this land. Such a waste of public money! As for the president coming from a well-to-do family, it's the understatement of the year! In my opinion, there's no need to grant houses and land to retired officials of any rank whatsoever. They can maintain their intellectual status - why worry about material status?

from:  sarada
Posted on: Apr 28, 2012 at 11:13 IST

This is not a big deal. As Mr.Kannan said, we should focus on spending tax payers money to develop the country's infrastructure; not for constituting committees to acquire the land, construct the house for President, who may have houses and lands in the name of her relatives. And it is not a worried issue also.

from:  Hariharan
Posted on: Apr 28, 2012 at 10:50 IST

In a democracy, we need to decide how dignity of a former President of India is enhanced. Does it depend on the size of his or her residence? We need not blindly follow any past precedents in this regard.

from:  Narendra M Apte
Posted on: Apr 28, 2012 at 09:58 IST

I have an advice to Smt. Pratibhaji. My uncle, a wellknown writer used to mention that Rajaji,used to visit vegetable market with his wife in Chennai to buy vegetables despite his high political status. Similarly, the President on her retirement should occupy a simple accomodation of her choice and mingle with common folks and advice the government on peoples real problems for improvement.

from:  Vyas K Susarla
Posted on: Apr 28, 2012 at 09:03 IST

These alert citizens of Pune deserve congratulations for putting a end to the looting spree. Some Pune politicians have always tried had to usurp the vast area in/near Pune that belongs to the defence ministry. I am sure they will try again.

from:  P M Vishwanath
Posted on: Apr 28, 2012 at 08:01 IST

Why the VIPs have to be given accommodation by government agency that
too grabbing the land which is meant for others . Why the people who
are getting retirement are not doing it themselves to escape such
controversies. If media raised this issue there is nothing like
negative reporting.

from:  Rabindra Chauhan
Posted on: Apr 28, 2012 at 07:55 IST

The president is actually from a well to do family. Keeping aside her eligibility for a post retirement house does she actually need one. The erstwhile president APJ ABDUL KALAM lives at a house bought from his own earnings. I think the others who can afford must also follow suit. This saves public money which is scarce and cretes a feeling of good will.

from:  krishnan
Posted on: Apr 28, 2012 at 07:55 IST

It is better to use taxpayers money to first make good roads, bridges and then build a new house for the President which more of a ceremonial job

from:  kannan
Posted on: Apr 28, 2012 at 07:53 IST

It is good that the first citizen has forgone the allotment of Pune Home as she does not want to get embroiled in the controversy over the land meant otherwise for war widows. A fine display of the moral and financial discipline. This however, need not necessarily be read along with the centre's coughing up her travelling expenses of 215 crores for foreign tours undertaken along with her family members.

from:  C.Chandrasekaran
Posted on: Apr 28, 2012 at 06:52 IST

This is a great decision from an otherwise not so articulate President. Retired presidents should be accommodated in Government owned guest houses, in New Delhi or state capitals during their life time. They are national assets and would play a huge role, in maintaining order and can be used as trouble shooters rising above party politics.
Pratibhaji should come out openly against the cancer of corruption in India and should lead the anti-corruption crusade.

from:  Dr RKRAO REBBAPRAGADA
Posted on: Apr 28, 2012 at 03:38 IST

She can ask her Son of how to make money. Just recently he was caught with 1 crore in his car. I'm sure Madam President is painful about that too. It does not matter where she lives. There are crores of people without home in India. If they don't have a normal shelter to have a good sleep, then Madam President does not deserve anything out of Tax Payors money...Sorry and sad that I had to think low about the president of my country.

from:  Manoj
Posted on: Apr 28, 2012 at 03:15 IST

Ms.Pratibha,being the President of India,set a bad precedent by ensuring construction of a bunglow by the govt of india,to live in after her retirement, on the sprawling place exclusively earmarked for construction of dwellings for war widows, which is unprecedented.Never in the past,none of the presidents,ever provided with such a facility after their retirement.Why this provision to Ms.Pratibhapatil alone,is anybody's guess.

from:  Anthony
Posted on: Apr 28, 2012 at 03:12 IST

Very good thing. She has been a useless President India ever had. So
before leave, the one good thing she did.

Thanks a million on behalf of billion stomachs burning INDIANS.

from:  Karthik
Posted on: Apr 28, 2012 at 03:05 IST

It is unfortunate that a retiring President's future residence becomes a controversy. The Chief of Staff of the Army is drawn into unnecessary polemics. Earlier, the press and the Defense Department made much of a minor discrepancy in his date of birth. After his revelation that he was approached for a kick back in arms purchase, the entire unsavory affair came to an abrupt close! All this, after a series of super-mega scandals involving billions on billions of dollars --- the Supreme Court had to thrust itself in to their investigation!
Whither India?
"All that is solid melts, all that is sacred is profaned"

from:  Thiru v. Ramakrishnan
Posted on: Apr 28, 2012 at 02:54 IST

Bravo, President Pratibha Patil. The President refused retirement accomodation at Pune because of alligations that the land was originally assigned for war widows by the Defense Department. Whether the concerned land was formerly assigned to the war widows or not, the alligations and perception are more important than whatever be the fact. I hope we have some more politicians following the example of the President. Instead of bribes, corruption and nepotism, the polititions should keep out of allegations whether they are fact or fiction. Democracy in India is in the right direction, but a long way in the elemination of the currupt politicians with criminal records and background.

from:  Davis K. Thanjan
Posted on: Apr 28, 2012 at 01:34 IST

It is a good move, though belated. She should not have ventured into this murky deal in the first deal. She and her glorified family have not contributed anything big to the nation. In fact they have caused enough pain and disquiet to the people of Maharashtra in the past. I still remember how a past president, Shankar Dayal Sharma recklessly wanted his post-retirement home in New Delhi to be re-furnished at a cost of Rs.45 lakhs in those days. That was his bill for his 'service' to the nation.
Presidents, after retirement, should ask for moderate residence so that there is no displeasure amongst the public.

from:  Chennaivaasi
Posted on: Apr 28, 2012 at 01:29 IST

I think it makes sense to abdicate any such property if there is any shroud of doubt. I also think people have been harsh on the President given that she had to fill the shoes of Mr. Kalam. And after his reign, I guess people had higher expectations...

from:  Ankit Chandra
Posted on: Apr 28, 2012 at 00:54 IST

Atleast now the president is doing the right thing. Specially after it was known that some 200 crore rupees was spent for her abroad visits.

from:  Ashwini Kumar
Posted on: Apr 28, 2012 at 00:22 IST

People of India is really pained more than the President of India for the amount of money she and her family spent on foreign tours (Approximately 205 Crore Rupees)
Will she have the grace to refund the money spent on her family members to Government of India? After all that money can be used to educate millions of poor children.

from:  Hemnath
Posted on: Apr 28, 2012 at 00:15 IST

Even earlier, there were allegations that the President and her family
were making foreign trips and burdening the common man --- No action is taken in this country against politicians holding high offices. Accountability to the public is non-existent; while the rich get by, the poor continue to place their bets on the promise of a better future; the middle class doesnt care and just move overseas.

from:  sowmya
Posted on: Apr 28, 2012 at 00:05 IST

The President's Office, befitting its High Office, skirts round the issue. She was not
exactly homeless before ascending the throne.

from:  Soundararajan Srinivasa
Posted on: Apr 28, 2012 at 00:04 IST

First of all appreciation to Hindu for publishing the statement from
Rashtrapati Bhavan in an unbiased manner.

from:  Vishnu
Posted on: Apr 27, 2012 at 23:41 IST

Why does the president of our country need a 4,500 sq.ft house to live when most of the citizens live in homes of 800 sq.ft or less. It is also atrocious to have spent Rs 205 crores just on her foreign trips. Don't these people have conscience? Probably not, otherwise India will be a different country. A president is supposed to set an example with honesty, integrity & with her simple living and what do we have?

from:  S M Kumar
Posted on: Apr 27, 2012 at 23:25 IST

At last better sense prevailed - but after a considerable waste of time and lots of noise from all quarters. If only she had been sensitive to - how the past Presidents of India behaved or acted after their retirement, all this newsprint and space in media could have been saved!!

from:  Mahadevan
Posted on: Apr 27, 2012 at 23:06 IST

If Hon. President Pratibha Patil feels so self righteous and if no
stigma what so ever of getting a prime land measuring over 2.60
lakh sq. ft allotted to her post retirement, than it stand to reason
that she should not have surrendered it. Claim that "despite the clarifications given by the President's secretariat, the misgivings were unfortunately persisting " cannot be sustained as there can be no smoke with out fire. The august office of the President has reached a nadir consequent to the scandal, coming after series of serious charges and has brought down the dignity of the office considerably.

from:  N.G. Krishnan
Posted on: Apr 27, 2012 at 21:41 IST

i use the name pratibha as in her role of CinC she has not accepted nor responded to retired army men. she has done nothing for orop or pay arrears since 4th Pay commission nor our mass return of our medals which were earned by us and not granted by our uncles. To be polite, the media is silent, and therefore i a 7th generation army man refused to offer the 8th generation to the Indian Army.

from:  Amar
Posted on: Apr 27, 2012 at 21:38 IST

This is excellent decision ever showed by President Pratibha Patil.

from:  Atul Warhekar
Posted on: Apr 27, 2012 at 20:11 IST

Rs. 205 crore.......??!!?!?!? O.... M.... G.
one tenth of this amount will enlighten so many poor and needy people. Head of state had to make foreign trips. No questions asked but this amount is certainly on the higher side. Indians robbing Indians...!

from:  Prabakaran
Posted on: Apr 27, 2012 at 19:44 IST

It was a case of David Vs Goliath all over again. And, poetic justice: David won!

from:  N.S.Rajan
Posted on: Apr 27, 2012 at 19:34 IST

You can not blame her entirely since she sees the way politicians
are looting the exchequer. She obviously wants to live peacefully
after retirement and not get involved in any kind of litigation. We
must thank God for it. She has spent enough public money on her
foreign travels and felt that enough was enough. Ms Patil, what
you have done is a good move.

from:  S N IYER
Posted on: Apr 27, 2012 at 19:31 IST

Forego or not, India cannot afford to shower such opulence on it's leaders when several thousands are homeless.Our politics is also smitten by page 3 values. Why else would we nominate as MPs, stars who have already carved their own fortune serving their own interests and not vest the power of authority with noted social activists who have been selflessly working at the grassroots for development.

from:  Sarath Chander
Posted on: Apr 27, 2012 at 19:27 IST
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