By Rajiv Punj
Remember our Rashtrapati Bhavan – or presidential palace – once had stalwarts such as Dr Rajendra Prasad and Dr Radhakrishnan as its occupants. Remember also that these stalwarts had open differences with our stalwart Prime Minister Nehru at that time. But they were stalwarts and respected one another despite their differences.
Recently we had another stalwart president in Dr Abdul Kalam who, because of his towering achievements, brought dignity to the highest office in India.
But this nation would like to forget the 2007-2012 period as a black patch in its presidential history.
The stature of the “Peoples House” created by Dr. Kalam was reduced to that of “visitors of sycophants”. The controversies created during Pratibha Patil’s tenure are unparalleled.
Her polemics over foreign travel jaunts left everyone baffled. Her polemics over post-retirement settlement created a fury among the public at large.
Her procrastination over clemency applications showed her insensitivity to the nation. And her use of the President’s office for family gains created a new precedence.
The President, as the ceremonial head of the state, has a tremendous symbolic significance. Over 1.2 billion people look up to the Head of the State. The first woman President of the country had a tremendous opportunity to create an ever-lasting impression. But, alas, she let down the country’s women who had monumental expectations from her.
Thank God, her tenure is FINALLY over…
That she lowered the dignity of the highest office in the land can be seen from a few of the `tributes’ to her that are currently doing the rounds:
– `Pratibha Patil to leave Delhi soon for Pune. Via Bali, Tahiti, Honolulu, Vancouver, Miami, St. Barts, Corfu & Dubai.’
– `Most Presidents make history – Pratibha Patel made geography.’
– `Pratibha Patil will be missed by Air India pilots, flight crews and chefs.’
– `Pratibha Patil’s three-step exit strategy from office: (1): Transfer all frequent flyer miles to personal acct . (2): Start new cooperative bank. (3): Start a museum in her lifetime with gifted artifacts.
– `I salute Pratibha Patil for leaving zero footprints in history – No kid in the future can ever be asked any question about her in any exam.’
– `Now that she’s jobless, Pratibha Patil can sit and upload pictures of all her international travels on FB (facebook).’
– `Pratibha Patil leaves Rashtrapati Bhavan as the Indian with largest collection of fridge magnets from across the world.’
– `Pratibha Patil on her way out of Rashtrapati Bhavan, saying: My only regret is that I couldn’t go to the moon during my term.’
– `Pranab Mukherjee moved into Rashtrapati Bhavan. Right now he is changing all the fused tube-lights with new ones.’
`Happy that Pratibha Patil is out of Rashtrapati Bhavan! The worst president India has ever had so far! A shame for Indian women!’
But I would blame the leaders, who for selfish reasons, picked her up for the august office of the country!
(A Canadian citizen, Rajiv Punj works with a multinational in New Delhi)