Emotional, President goes down memory lane in farewell speech
Two days before he demits office, President Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday went down memory lane as he delivered his farewell speech here, recalling his first day as member of Parliament as well as his past associations.
"With a sense of gratitude and a prayer in my heart, I take leave of you. I leave with a sense of fulfilment and happiness of having served the people of this great country through this institution -- as their humble servant," he said in his address to members of both the houses at the Central Hall of Parliament.
"As I retire from the office of the President of the republic, my association with Parliament also comes to an end. I will no longer be a part of Parliament of India. It will be with a tinge of sadness and a rainbow of memories that I will be leaving this magnificent building today," he added.
Reminiscing about his association with Parliament, he said: "When I first entered the portals of this hallowed institution 48 years ago, I was 34 years old.
"In July 1969, I came to Parliament as member of the Rajya Sabha, representing one of the six seats from West Bengal. My election to the Rajya Sabha took place on July 4 and the first session I attended was on July 22, 1969," said Mukherjee.
"Since then, for the last 37 years, I have served as a member of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha. Of these, I served five terms as member of the Rajya Sabha -- four times elected from West Bengal and one time from Gujarat. And two terms in the Lok Sabha."
He said that his long innings in Parliament was both instructive and educative.
"I entered Parliament at a time when the Rajya Sabha was full of experienced parliamentarians, leaders of the freedom movement, many of whom were brilliant speakers -- M.C. Chagla, Ajit Prasad Jain, Jairamdas Daulatram, Bhupesh Gupta, Joachim Alva, Mahavir Tyagi, Raj Narain, Dr Bhai Mahavir, Loknath Mishra, Chitta Basu, and many others," he recalled the names of a few stalwarts.
"In fact, Bhupesh Gupta was truly a legend in the Rajya Sabha. Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel's son Dahyabhai Patel, and daughter Maniben Patel represented the Swatantra Party in Parliament," he added.
"P.V. Narasimha Rao, the oration of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, cryptic one-liners of Madhu Limaye and Dr. Nath Pai, wit and humour of Piloo Modi, poetic discourses of Hiren Mukherjee, razor-sharp repartee of Indrajit Gupta, calming presence of Dr. Manmohan Singh, mature advice of L.K. Advani, and passionate support of Sonia Gandhi on social legislations," Mukherjee reminisced.
President Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday remembered his "mentor", former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi as a "towering personality" in his last speech as the President of India.
"My career was mentored by Mrs. Indira Gandhi who was a towering personality. She had the courage to call a spade a spade," Mukherjee said as he related an interesting incident that happened in London after the Congress' defeat post Emergency.
"After the Congress' and her own defeat post Emergency, she went to London in 1978. A battery of media persons, in a fairly aggressive mood were waiting to ask questions.
"The first question was: 'What had been your gains from Emergency?'. Looking directly into the eyes of media persons, in a level voice she replied: 'In those 21 months we comprehensively managed to alienate all sections of people'," Mukherjee recalled.
After a few seconds of silence, there was laughter, he said.
"Nobody after that asked a question about Emergency and the media persons melted away," he said.
Law must be preceded by scrutiny, discussion: Mukherjee
Outgoing President Pranab Mukherjee on Sunday stressed that a legislation must be preceded by "scrutiny and adequate discussion".
Mukherjee, who is set to demit office on July 25, in his farewell speech to lawmakers, termed it "unfortunate" that parliament's time devoted to legislation has been declining.
"With heightened complexity of administration, legislation must be preceded by scrutiny and adequate discussion. Scrutiny in committees is no substitute to open discussion on the floor of the House," Mukherjee said while addressing parliamentarians in the Central Hall of Parliament.
He said that when Parliament fails to discharge its law making the role, or enacts laws without discussion, it "breaches the trust reposed in it by the people".