In­dian MPs plan Pres­i­dent Pranab Mukher­jee’s farewell

Muscat Daily - - WORLD -

New Delhi, In­dia - In­dian par­lia­men­tar­i­ans are ready­ing for a gala farewell for Pranab Mukher­jee, who demits the of­fice of the pres­i­dent of In­dia on Tues­day.

The event, which will be held on Sun­day in the Cen­tral Hall of Par­lia­ment, is one of the many lined up for the out­go­ing Pres­i­dent, whose record of re­ject­ing mercy petitions (30) is un­par­al­leled among his four im­me­di­ate pre­de­ces­sors and, in the his­tory of the In­dian repub­lic, is sec­ond only to pres­i­dent R Venka­tra­man, who re­jected 45 mercy pleas.

Mukher­jee, who is also the Supreme Com­man­der of the Armed Forces, was given a farewell by the Chiefs of Staff Com­mit­tee on Fri­day.

In a sim­ple func­tion held at the Manek­shaw Cen­tre, the Pres­i­dent in­ter­acted with se­nior mil­i­tary of­fi­cers.

In his farewell ad­dress, Mukher­jee ex­tended his best wishes to all mem­bers of the armed forces and their fam­i­lies. He also paid trib­utes to the mar­tyrs and their fam­i­lies for their sac­ri­fices for the na­tion.

Vice Pres­i­dent Hamid An­sari, Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi and De­fence Min­is­ter Arun Jait­ley along with the ser­vice chiefs and other se­nior of­fi­cers at­tended the ban­quet.

Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi also hosted a farewell din­ner for the Pres­i­dent in Hy­der­abad House on Satur­day.

Mukher­jee will be re­placed by Ram Nath Kovind, who was elected the new pres­i­dent from the bot­tom of the Hindu caste sys­tem on Thurs­day, only the sec­ond time since in­de­pen­dence a head of state has been cho­sen from the marginalised group.

Ram Nath Kovind won the largely cer­e­mo­nial po­si­tion with more than 65 per cent of the vote by mem­bers of In­dia’s par­lia­ment and state as­sem­blies, the elec­tion com­mis­sion said.

The 71 year old former lawyer and state gover­nor from the down­trod­den Dalit com­mu­nity was nom­i­nated by Modi’s rul­ing party for the post.

An­a­lysts said the elec­tion of Kovind would help Modi tighten his grip on power and ac­crue po­lit­i­cal cap­i­tal by send­ing an im­por­tant mes­sage to the Dal­its, a long-dis­dained elec­toral group once known as ‘un­touch­ables’.

The op­po­si­tion Congress Party also put for­ward a Dalit can­di­date, a former par­lia­men­tary speaker Meira Ku­mar.

But Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as­sem­bled enough elec­toral col­lege votes to push through its can­di­date and the out­come was ex­pected.

‘Con­grat­u­la­tions to Shri Ram Nath Kovind Ji on be­ing elected the Pres­i­dent of In­dia! Best wishes for a fruit­ful and in­spir­ing ten­ure,’ Modi wrote on Twit­ter.

Kovind, in a sober­ing ad­dress af­ter be­ing de­clared pres­i­den­t­elect, said it was an ‘emo­tional mo­ment’.

“It has been rain­ing in Delhi since morn­ing, and re­minds me of my child­hood in our an­ces­tral vil­lage home, where we sib­lings used to hud­dle around the walls to avoid wa­ter from the leak­ing roof when it rained,” he said.

“Even to­day the coun­try will have so many Ram Nath Kovinds work­ing as daily wa­gers, farm­ers... sweat­ing for their next meal. I want to tell them that I am go­ing to the ‘Pres­i­dent House’ as their rep­re­sen­ta­tive.”

Cel­e­bra­tions erupted in Kovind’s home state of Uttar Pradesh with drum­ming and cheer­ing in cities and vil­lages.

Dal­its, who num­ber around 200mn in the na­tion of 1.3bn, are among In­dia’s poor­est com­mu­ni­ties and rel­e­gated to the mar­gins of so­ci­ety.

De­spite le­gal pro­tec­tion, dis­crim­i­na­tion is rife and Dal­its are rou­tinely de­nied ac­cess to ed­u­ca­tion and other ad­vance­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties. Kovind said his elec­tion to the high­est of­fice of the land un­der­scored the strength of In­dia’s democ­racy. “I never thought or aimed for this of­fice... I will work to pro­tect the In­dian con­sti­tu­tion,” he added.

Kovind will be sworn in as In­dia’s 14th pres­i­dent on Tues­day, as Pranab Mukher­jee’s fiveyear term draws to a close.

(AFP)

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) pres­i­dent Amit Shah (right) greets In­dia’s Pres­i­dent-elect Ram Nath Kovind (cen­tre) dur­ing a cer­e­mony af­ter the lat­ter’s elec­tion, in New Delhi on Thurs­day

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