Members of Parliament bid adieu to outgoing President Pranab Mukherjee at a gala ceremony in the Central Hall of Parliament. Mukherjee was received by PM Modi, VP Hamid Ansari, Sumitra Mahajan and Ananth Kumar at Parliament for the farewell ceremony.
Pranab Mukherjee was the 13th President of India, in office since July 2012. In a political career spanning six decades, Mukherjee was a senior leader of the Indian National Congress and occupied several ministerial portfolios in the Government of India. Prior to his election as President, Mukherjee was Union Finance Minister from 2009 to 2012. Mukherjee’s political skills and long experience in government have also led him to head a large number of committees of Ministers in the government, a device that has been employed to obtain consensus within the members of the governing coalition on contentious issues. At the time of his resignation on being nominated as the UPA’s presidential candidate, Mukherjee was heading several Groups of Ministers(GoMs) and Empowered Groups of Ministers (EGoMs).
Ansari lauded him for his unshakeable belief in the idea of India and appealed to the people to re-dedicate themselves to the democratic values of the country. He complimented Mukherjee for the manner in which he essayed the role of the president. He said that Mukherjee has brought a great distinction and dignity to his post and his views have enhanced the stature of the office.
Later everyone expressed their profound respect to Mukherjee.
Pranab Mukherjee expressed gratitude to the parliamentarians for the farewell. He asked the members to avoid frequent disruptions in Parliament saying it hurt the opposition more. He also said the government should avoid the ordinance route as it should be reserved only for compelling circumstances. Mukherjee said: “I am firm in my opinion that the Ordinance route should be used only in compelling circumstances and there should be no recourse to Ordinance in monetary matters.” He strived to defend and protect the Constitution. Mukherjee was addressing parliamentarians, Cabinet ministers and Sonia Gandhi-led leaders of opposition parties at a formal farewell function at the Central Hall of Parliament. He also thanked the PM for his guidance and cooperation and praised Narendra Modi for driving transformational changes in the country with passion and energy. He showcased GST as shining example of cooperative federalism that speaks volumes for the maturity of Indian Parliament.
Quoting Nehru on the importance of parliamentary institution, Mukherjee criticised disruptions of Parliament proceedings and short-circuiting passages of bills. He also praised many parliamentarians of his time.
In his last speech as a president, Mukherjee remembered his mentor, Indira Gandhi as towering personality. He also an interesting incident that happened in London after the Congress’ defeat post Emergency.
Mukherjee said, “As the President, I have tried to protect, preserve and defend the Constitution, not just in letter, but in spirit as well.” He concluded by saying, “I leave this magnificent building with a rainbow of memories and a sense of fulfilment and happiness of having served the people of this country as their humble servant.”
Mukherjee is very well respected within the party social circles. Media accounts describe him as having a reputation as a number-crunching politician with a phenomenal memory and an unerring survival instinct.