Millennium Post

The Presidential Reward

The Presidential Reward
One of the most successful Congressman of all times was elected the next president of India on Sunday, giving the principle party of the ruling United Progressive Alliance (UPA) a much-needed confidence booster at a time when its allies and the opposition have cornered it on different issues. Pranab Mukherjee will become the 13th president of the country when he takes oath on 25 July, bringing him the highest office in the long, four-decade-old political journey.

Though it was clear from the start that his nearest rival P A Sangma of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and other parties was fighting a losing battle, the scale of victory must have come as a great satisfaction to Mukherjee and his election team from the Congress. He secured 69.3 per cent of the 10,29,750 valid votes polled from the electoral college. He secured an impressive support of 527 members of Parliament out of 776, while Sangma could convince only 206 of them, the value of each MP's vote being 708. Fifteen votes were declared invalid, including that of the Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav. In Kerala, Mukherjee swept the election, getting all the 124 votes polled, while one was declared invalid. However, the Communist Party of India and the Revolutionary Socialist Party members abstained.
As soon as the results from states started pouring in, his supporters came out on the streets in Delhi and West Bengal. In the evening, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited him to congratulate him, who was followed by his cabinet colleagues and other Congress leaders. Almost all state chief ministers issued congratulatory messages to him, most hailing him as a statesman who could rise above party politics to uphold the dignity and impartiality of the president's office.

Soon after the victory, Mukherjee called the Janata Dal (United) president Sharad Yadav for the support of his party in the election despite it being a part of the NDA. The JD(U) chose to support Mukherjee's candidate despite the NDA choosing to back Sangma.

The 76-year-old president-elect, who has held important portfolios of finance, defence and external affairs and also managed economic planning in the country as the deputy chairperson of the Planning Commission, thanked the common people of the country. In a comments after being declared elected, he pledged to 'protect, defend and preserve' the constitution. He said, 'I will try to justify in a modest way as I can to be trustworthy.' 


During his more than four decades of public service, Pranab Mukherjee, 76, elected Sunday as India's 13th president, was the government's principal trouble-shooter during its most tumultuous days as he commanded tremendous respect across the political spectrum.

That eventually tilted the balance in his being named the ruling UPA's nominee for the country's top constitutional job as the occupant of Rashtrapati Bhavan, the imposing British-built, 340-room presidential mansion perched atop Raisina Hill.

His Congress colleagues whisper he is a Chanakya, ancient India's fabled political conniver, but he is largely well liked for his knowledge and sagacity.

He is down to earth, lives modestly, and has admitted many a time that he cannot speak polished English. For one who is supremely self-confident, he can be humble.

But he has a temper - and has more than once apologised to MPs for raising his voice inside and outside parliament.

Once a pipe smoker, Mukherjee has now quit smoking. Today he tells people to kick the habit.
He is not a movie buff but his soft corner for the silver screen was evident when, in the budget he presented in May, he exempted films from service tax, saying they contributed immensely to national unity.

‘I used to see some movies earlier. But recently I didn't have the luxury of having any time... except for one movie, watching which was, I think, a part of my job. It was on air force...Rang De Basanti,’ he had famously said about the 2006 Aamir Khan-starrer that was predicated on the defence minister being shot for a supposed wrong.

He devours books, works well past midnight, and has said in a rare peek into his personal life that he was hardly able to find time for his family. His only interaction was often limited to giving his wife a goodnight peck before retiring to bed well past the usual bedtime.

He is known never to have taken a holiday, except for his annual spiritual jaunt when he has a rendezvous with his favourite deity, Goddess Durga, at his ancestral home in Miriti village in Birbhum district, about 200 km from Kolkata.


Team Anna on Sunday claimed they have ‘proof’ of corruption against Pranab Mukherjee and it would be made public on 25 July when they launch an indefinite fast coinciding with his swearing-in as the President.

‘The Prime Minister is corrupt, now we have a corrupt President as well. We will release proof of corruption against Pranab Mukherjee on 25 July during our fast,’ Team Anna member Arvind Kejriwal said.

Kejriwal was speaking at a rally in New Delhi to drum up support for Team Anna’s indefinite fast in the national capital from Wednesday, saying they are ready for a ‘fight to finish’ and will not be satisfied with mere assurances.

Led by Kejriwal, Shanti Bhushan and Prashant Bhushan, the car and bike rally began from Rajghat and reached Jantar Mantar where they spoke against the UPA government for its alleged inaction in tackling corruption.

‘We are ready for fight to finish. This time around we are not going to give up our fast on mere assurances. We will end our agitation only after we get solutions to our demand.
‘We don’t trust the government anymore. Either we’ll get solutions or our bodies will be lifted from here,’ Kejriwal told the protesters.

Kejriwal, Manish Sisodia and Gopal Rai will sit on an indefinite fast in the presence of Anna Hazare from Wednesday demanding setting up of a special panel to probe corruption allegations against Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Cabinet colleagues.

Kejriwal said he has been issued a notice from a district and sessions court in Bulandshahr to appear before it on 26 July for his remarks against MPs.

‘The fast will start on the 25th, but I will go to Bulandshahr on 26 July. I am going to tell the court that whatever we have said is the truth and nothing else,’ he said.


Riding high on United Progressive Alliance (UPA) candidate Pranab Mukherjee’s victory on Sunday, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit said, ‘UPA candidate Mukherjee was the best choice for President. His candidature was a huge victory for the Congress party as his personality had inspired support across party lines.’

Dikshit said with his years of experience, Pranab Mukherjee will be ‘one of the wisest presidents’.
‘I think he will be a wise president, not being a political president or an administrative president. He has so many years of experience in both governance and working in the party, so, I think he will be one of the wisest presidents we have had,’ said Dikshit.

She added, ‘Any win is a victory and needs to be celebrated. Despite the fact everyone was cynical and questions that media has asked, but eventually UPA has come out victorious and I hope it would be a historical win. The persona of  Mukherjee is really that of an outstanding leader. Everybody realises eventually that the choice of UPA was outstanding. Today is a day of great celebration for all of us.’

Dikshit also said she found it amazing that some parties in the opposition ranks supported Mukherjee.

‘It was unprecedented for such support to be garnered across political lines. Even the NDA broke up and wanted to vote for the president to be Pranab Mukherjee,' she said, adding that Mukherjee and his rival PA Sangma ‘were poles apart fairly’.

Dikshit further said that she is positive that Mukherjee would be able to put aside his persona as a Congressman and function as a neutral President who had the best interests of the country at heart.
‘Country should be happy as president becomes everybody’s president,' said Dikshit.
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