Outgoing President Pranab Mukherjee will be given a farewell by Members of Parliament on July 23, two days before his term ends. By the time the farewell takes place in the Central Hall of Parliament, his successor would have been chosen. The President designate will be sworn in on July 25.
According to tradition, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan will deliver a farewell address for the President, who will also be presented a memento and a signature book signed by all MPs. After the farewell, the President is expected to attend a high tea in his honour in the courtyard adjacent to the Central Hall.
A veteran MP who has served many terms, Mukherjee would have attended many such farewells.
Speaking at her farewell at the same venue exactly five years ago, President Pratibha Patil had said about her successor: “He is well-known to the people of India, as also to Members of Parliament, for his work as a statesman and for his many achievements in over four decades of public life. A veteran Parliamentarian, he has a formidable reputation based on his insightful mind and sharp memory. He has vast experience of the functioning of Government as well. He brings to the office of the President sagacity, experience and a deep understanding of national and international issues.”
In showing the Constitution to the government, the Opposition and everyone else during his tenure, but steering clear of any confrontation with a government of a markedly different ideology from his own, Mukherjee has made his predecessor look prescient.
He has also, during his tenure, built a “soft” legacy for himself, repackaging the history of the Rashtrapati Bhavan and of India in a more people-friendly way. A hi-tech story-telling museum, books on Rashtrapati Bhavan, including one on birds photographed by his additional secretary, paintings and in-residence programmes that allowed celebrities and commoners alike to get a taste of the Rashtrapati Bhavan — the list is formidable.
Following his retirement, Mukherjee is slated to occupy the erstwhile residence of former President A P J Abdul Kalam at Rajaji Marg. He has said he wants to finish writing the third part of his autobiography and take up teaching. There is much curiosity about his journals and what they record about the momentous developments in Indian politics in which Mukherjee was a crucial player. However, interacting with guests at a recent Rashtrapati Bhavan banquet, Mukherjee said the more controversial developments of which he had been a part have not even been recorded in those journals.
The Signature Book, one of the parting gifts for the President’s, will be kept in the Central Hall from July 17 — the day MPs and MLAs will choose between NDA nominee Ram Nath Kovind and the Opposition’s pick, Meira Kumar. Between 10 am and 6 pm, official working hours of Parliament, MPs can come and sign the book.