11 days of tenure left, President asserts self

11 days of tenure left, President asserts self

With only 11 days left in her five-year term, President Pratibha Patil has woken up and took her first assertive action asking the government to hasten implementation of development programmes. 

On Friday, she invited Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to meet her, and asked to him to ensure that follow-up action on rainfed/dryland farming in the country was taken. The issue came up after a report of a committee of governors, appointed by her and headed by Punjab Governor Shivraj Patil, was submitted to her on Thursday.

While discussing the outcome of the meeting of the Governors’ committee on rainfed/dryland farming, the President, according to a Rashtrapati Bhavan press release, “explained (to the PM) the need for expeditious follow-up action on them.”

 Perhaps, this is for the first time Patil, as head of the nation, is giving such an oral instruction to the PM. Singh’s reaction was not known. Repeated calls from Deccan Herald to President’s press officer for her reaction went unanswered. The President hails from the semi-arid Amaravati region of Maharashtra.

The release said: “The President broadly discussed about the recommendations of the Governors’ Committee on enhancing productivity, profitability and sustainability of rain-fed/dry-land farming with special reference to farmer – industry partnership and explained the need for expeditious follow up action on them.”

The two leaders in their 30-minute meeting “discussed about the upcoming monsoon session of Parliament and various other issues of national and international importance.”
The meeting between President Patil and Prime Minister Singh could be the last before her term ends. Normally, the Prime Minister seeks meetings with the President after he returns from a foreign tour and before Parliament session starts, in order to brief her.

While the first four years of Patil’s term was nearly eventless, she courted controversies one after the other in the last six months. The respnse to an RTI response in March this year, that revealed that her 22 foreign trips cost the exchequer Rs 205 crore evoked public debate. The President responded that foreign tours is a normal practice aimed at boosting bilateral ties. Two other issues created controversy in the last couple of months.

One related to her post-retirement bungalow at Pune coming up on a 4,500 sq ft defence land and was meant for housing accommodation of jawans. The other was when she went on a mercy overdrive and commuted the death sentences of as many as 35 convicts to life, one of who was already dead.

Patil performs final duty as Prez

In the last such event before she demits the office of  Pre-sident, Pratibha Patil received the credentials of the new envoys of Pakistan and Afghanistan on Friday, reports DHNS from Delhi.

Salman Bashir, Pakistan’s new High Commissioner to India and Shaida Mohammad Abdali, Kabul’s ambassador to Delhi, were among the five envoys who presented their credentials. The envoys who presented their credentials to President included Mich-ael Steiner of Germany, Gustavo Manuel de Aristegui y San Roman of Spain and Harald Sandberg, the Ambassador of Sweden.

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