What do you think when the first citizen of the country ‘feels’ helpless of ‘income tax’ deduction on his salary. President Kovind must be getting rupees five lakh per month as part of his salary but in a public meeting organised at his ‘birth place’, he said that over two lakh seventy five thousand rupees per month get deducted from his salary every month. He complained that a local teacher is getting more salary than him and that government bureaucrats get more than him. I am sure President Kovind must know that all teachers and bureaucrats too get tax deduction as none of them get that luxury which actually the president of India has. One does not know why the president of India was feeling so bad when the salary of the President is absolutely tax free. It is time, our ‘able’ finance minister must explain to the nation as why they are deducting more amount from poor rashtrapati ji.
It is a shocking statement to say the least. One, the President’s office has luxuries attached to it apart from perks and facilities. Even after retirement , he should be getting a decent salary including a luxurious house and one assistant. I have never heard any past president of India speaking about their salary when the salaries were never even the concern.
The President of India is the custodian of our rights. He should encourage us to pay tax but it is also important that for a person whose salary and perks are Income tax free, to be part of any such campaign would be hypocritical. When the president of India speaks to people and complains that he does not get anything and college teachers get more salary than him apart from sarkari babus, he is generalising the things. One, they too are ‘teachers’ who are not paid and used in government duties. Second, even in the universities, things are not the same everywhere. Third, I am sure, teachers are not getting a ‘tax free’ salary and fourth about power and perks.
During the President’s visit to his hometown, he went by a ‘special’ train provided by Indian railways. We have to book our tickets much in advance and have to pay for the same. I am sure whether the railway charged money from Rashtrapati Bhavan or not. Second, the security protocol of the President in Kanpur was reportedly responsible for two deaths. One child died and got crushed and another woman who was suffering from post covid complications could not reach hospital because of traffic diversions and stoppage as President’s motorcade was passing through it. VIP culture in India remains powerful and reminds all of us ‘hamari aukat kya hai’.
The police officials apologised to the person who got killed but is this apology enough ? More importantly, it is the officials who will have to pay the price of these things happening but the question is the protocols are created by the officials under the guidance from the top leadership of the country. Shouldn’t the president’s office speak of it. How many of us have the luxuries of moving and stopping traffic at our will.
President Kovind should not be worried about his salary. He must seek clarification from the finance ministry as to why his salary was being deducted disproportionately i.e. more than 50% of his earnings. Income Tax rates in India are not higher and why should the president pay more. There is no need for the president to justify his tax deductions which actually never happen nor should he make us feel like an ordinary citizen. He is the president of India and the first citizen and should get whatever luxuries, power, prestige, perks along with it. We don’t question it. We only wish him to be the custodian of our rights and our constitution drafted by Baba Saheb Ambedkar.
I have not seen the President speaking much about Baba Saheb. I just want to remind him how President Giani Zail Singh and President K R Narayanan functioned in their offices. Both these presidents were the best presidents of India who gave a new meaning to the office of president. Giani Zail Singh took on the might of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi who was not consulting him. Giani ji showed Rajiv mirror that the president has enough power to dismiss him. President K R Narayanan protected our constitution and its secular values. He did not sign on the dotted lines of the government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Narayanan returned the order which wanted to impose president rule in Uttar Pradesh. He reminded the government time and again about its constitutional duties much to the discomfort of the ruling party that time.
Hope President Kovind enjoyed this trip to his native place. Uttar Pradesh is going to polls early next year and rashtrapati ji has a lot to protect our constitutional rights and political freedom in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Hope he will act whenever there is an attempt to throttle the rights of the people as he has a shining example of President K R Narayanan reminding the government to follow constitutional path and protect rights of the people.
Vidya Bhushan Rawat is a social activist. Twitter @freetohumanity