Members of Parliament on July 23, 2017 bid adieu to outgoing President Pranab Mukherjee at a gala ceremony at the Central Hall of Parliament as leaders recalled his contribution in upholding democratic values.
Eighty one-year-old Mr. Mukherjee was received by Vice-President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar at Parliament for the farewell ceremony.
In her speech, Ms. Mahajan said, “This is a solemn occasion for each one of us to express our profound respect to President Mukherjee.”
Mr. Ansari lauded Mr. Mukherjee for his “unshakable belief in the idea of India” and said he often appealed to the people to re-dedicate themselves to the democratic values of the country.
Mr. Mukherjee also stressed upon pluralism and diversity “as the greatest strength” of the country, he said.
Mr. Ansari also complimented Mr. Mukherjee for the manner in which he essayed the role of the President. “He brought great distinction and dignity to the top office. His views on national and international issues have enhanced the stature of the office,” he said.
The outgoing President expressed gratitude to the parliamentarians for the farewell.
“After Independence, we undertook to promote fraternity, dignity and unity of the nation. These ideals became the lodestar for the country,” Mr. Mukherjee said. He asked the members to avoid frequent disruptions in Parliament saying it hurt the Opposition more.
“During my years in Parliament, I learnt that it stands for debate, discussion and dissent. I also learnt that disruptions hurt the Opposition more,” he said.
Mr. Mukherjee also said the government should avoid the ordinance route as it should be reserved only for compelling circumstances. “It should not be taken for matters being considered for discussion (in Parliament),” he added.
Mr. 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.”