- In Featured Stories
- Last Updated on 30 July 2012
- By Sourav Panda
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"I will strive to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution not just in words but in spirit," says the 76 year old veteran leader Pranab Mukherjee, as he sworn in as the 13th president of the country. Surely this job is the key jewel in the crown for Mr Mukherjee who has spent nearly five decades serving his party, parliament and Government.
The historic centre hall of the parliament rose out in thunderous applause as Mr. Mukherjee took the office of the highest constitutional post in the country. The occasion was graced by Vice-President Hamid Ansari, Speaker Meira Kumar, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, outgoing President Pratibha Patil, Cabinet ministers, leaders of opposition, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, governors, chief ministers, MPs and diplomats. Dignitaries waited for the acceptance speech and the very freshly elected president didn’t disappoint. Grasping onto the sole purpose of a president to function as the guardian of the Constitution, he went on to add many topics that concerns the country at the moment. Somewhat as a hero would have spoken, he said the word poverty should be eliminated from the dictionary of modern India and hunger is humiliation to mankind. Thus ending his speech saying, "There can be no greater reward for a public servant than becoming the First Citizen of the country."
As the country congratulated the “Bengal tiger”, a congratulatory hand came from the US secretary of state Hillary Clinton as he became the 13th President of India even saying that Mukherjee had worked throughout his career to deepen India-US cooperation on a wide range of issues. Adding, "Together we will build on our shared democratic values, strengthen this relationship even more and create a brighter future for both our people."
Criticism was not far behind. Team Anna alleged that President Pranab Mukherjee would have been in jail rather than Rashtrapati Bhavan were it not for the immunity enjoyed by his new position not even sparing the PM and other prominent Cabinet members. Activists including Arvind Kejriwal, Manish Sisodia and Gopal Rai began their fast with Hazare slate Kejriwal and Prashant Bhushan indulged in no-holds-barred attacks on Mukherjee and the PM and accusing UPA chief Sonia Gandhi for dismissing the allegations as "baseless" without an inquiry.
Mukherjee, who was most recently finance minister, is one of India's most experienced politicians. Of course he is the country's most able strategists. Hope that he remembers the golden words written by Sri Aurobindo Ghosh---- "Our actual enemy is not any force exterior to ourselves, but our own crying weaknesses, our cowardice, our selfishness, our hypocrisy, our purblind sentimentalism".