Highlights: Ram Nath Kovind takes oath as India’s 14th President

Ram Nath Kovind has taken oath as the 14th President of India. The former Governor of Bihar had won the presidential election last week receiving over 7 lakh votes and defeating Opposition candidate Meira Kumar. 

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi | Updated: July 25, 2017 10:02:12 pm
Chief Justice JS Khehar administering oath to Ram Nath Kovind, who took over as India’s 14th President (Pic: Doordarshan)

Ram Nath Kovind has been sworn in as India’s 14th President replacing Pranab Mukherjee. He was administered the oath of office by Chief Justice JS Khehar in the central hall of Parliament. At the occasion attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, former PMs Manmohan Singh and Deve Gowda, former president Pratibha Patil, chief ministers and MPs of both Houses of Parliament, Kovind thanked everyone for the enormous responsibility bestowed on him.

“I bow to the 125 crore citizens of this great nation and promise to stay true to the trust they have bestowed on me,” he said. “Each one of us is a custodian of India’s well-being and of the legacy that we will pass on to coming generations.”

Kovind, former Governor of Bihar and nominated by the BJP-led NDA, won the presidential election last week receiving over 7 lakh votes in the Electoral College and defeating Opposition candidate Meira Kumar.

Kovind, who practiced at both the Delhi High Court and Supreme Court for 16 years, is India’s second Dalit president after KR Narayanan. The 71-year-old has also been a Rajya Sabha MP for two terms.

Highlights:

12:50 pm: That’s it for now. Thanks for staying with us.

12:45 pm: President Kovind takes the first salute at Rashtrapati Bhawan. Meanwhile, it is still raining. The two leaders are now having informal talks inside the Presidential Palace.

12:30 pm: Newly-elected president Ram Nath Kovind is now accompanying the former president to the latter’s residence at 10 Rajaji Marg. There is a heavy downpour right now around Parliament. Rain is considered a good luck charm for the historic occasion.

12:28 pm: The ceremony has now ended. President Kovind, accompanied by former president Mukherjee, is now exiting the central hall and is seen shaking hands with the leaders in the front row.

12:25 pm: I feel privileged to walk on the same path as Dr. Radhakrishnan, Dr. Abdul Kalam and Pranab da, says President Kovind

12:17 pm: Rashtrapati Bhawan’s Twitter account has changed.

12:15 pm: Ram Nath Kovind is speaking now.

My old memories from central hall of Parliament has been refreshed. In this central hall, we have discussed many things. I was brought up in a small mud hut in a small village: President Kovind.

He is also talking about the rising aspirations of Indians and what the country has the potential to do in upcoming years.

Former president Pratibha Patil, former PMs Deve Gowda and Manmohan Singh are in the audience. Bihar CM Nitish Kumar, who had broken opposition ranks to back Kovind, is also in the audience.

12:05 pm: And there we have it! India has a new President in Ram Nath Kovind. CJI JS Khehar adminstered the oath of office to Kovind.

12 noon: The national anthem has been sung and the oath-taking ceremony is beginning now. In a few minutes from now, India will have its new president in Ram Nath Kovind.

11:50 am: The cavalcade has reached Parliament now. Kovind, Mukherjee is entering the central hall of Parliament along with Speaker Sumitra Mahajan and CJI JS Khehar. VP Hamid Ansari is also with them.

(Picture courtesy: Doordarshan)

11:40 am: The roads have been blocked from Raisina Hill to Parliament. The bugle has been sounded. The outgoing president and president-elect are now departing for Parliament. Accompanied by the mounted bodyguard, the Mercedes carrying Mukherjee and Kovind is slowly making its way past leafy gardens and the red sandstone structures on to the famed Rajpath.

It’s a beautiful day here in Delhi as the President”s Bodyguard gives Mukherjee its farewell.

11:35 am: We learn that President Mukherjee gave Kovind a guided tour of the Rashtrapati Bhawan explaining to him the changes he brought in between 2012 and now.

11:30 am: Outgoing President Mukherjee has been widely called a copybook president, sticking firmly to the letter and spirit of the constitution throughout his term. So, we have a poll for our readers below. Let us know what you think!

11:20 am: So we have visuals now of President-elect Kovind and his wife meeting the outgoing President Mukherjee. Soon, they will be on their way to Parliament for the oath-taking function.

11:10 am: Hectic arrangements are taking place at the Rashtrapati Bhawan. The mounted President’s Bodyguard is already there waiting for President Mukherjee and President-Elect Kovind who will leave for the Parliament shortly. As we said earlier, the ceremony is at 12:15 pm.

11:00 am: As we await our new President, let’s look at the bureaucrats who will be at the new helm of affairs at the Rashtrapati Bhawan.

Gujarat’s resident commissioner Bharat Lal will be joint secretary to the new President. Sanjay Kothari, chairman of the Public Enterprises Selection Board (PESB), will serve as secretary and therefore the highest-ranked bureaucrat in the country’s highest office. Journalist Ashok Malik will be Kovind’s press secretary.

These appointments have been made by the Department of Personnel and Training of the Centre. There are murmurs whether these officers were requested by the President-Elect or just appointed by the PMO directly.

10:50 am: So just to give our readers a glimpse of what is to come, Ram Nath Kovind will be sworn in the central hall of Parliament at 12:15 pm. He will be administered the oath by Chief Justice JS Khehar after which he will exchange chairs with outgoing president Pranab Mukherjee.

There are unconfirmed reports that Kovind will take a buggy ride with Mukherjee from Rashtrapati Bhawan to Parliament House. The buggy, that was lying in disuse since 1984 before it was refurbished and taken out by President Mukherjee for the beating retreat ceremony in 2014, has always been a treat for people.

After his swearing-in, Kovind will address the two Houses of Parliament in a joint session and then later escort Mukherjee to his new residence at 10 Rajaji Marg.

10:40 am: The President-Elect’s family members have reached the Parliament complex ahead of the swearing-in function.

10:28 am: So President Kovind has reached Rajghat and is now paying tributes to the Mahatma. The President-Elect is accompanied by his wife as well.

Ram Nath Kovind, accompanied by his wife, paying tributes to Mahatma Gandhi at Rajghat (ANI photo)

10.20 am: Ram Nath Kovind leaves his residence to go to Rajghat.

10.15 am: The Prime Minister, the Chairman of Rajya Sabha, Speaker of the Lok Sabha, the Chief Justice of India, Speaker of the Lok Sabha will be attending the ceremony in the Central Hall.

9.50 am: President-elect Ram Nath Kovind will be visiting Rajghat at 10.20 am.

9.40 am: Our editorial on Outgoing President Pranab Mukherjee

“As he walks out of Rashtrapati Bhawan, Pranab Mukherjee is likely to be remembered as a copybook president, who followed the Constitution in letter and spirit while carrying out the duties of the office. This is an exceptional achievement — especially considering the political context of the last three years of his term as India’s 13th President,” the newspaper said.

“When the NDA won the 2014 election under Narendra Modi, therefore, halfway through President Mukherjee’s tenure, it raised the spectre of a clash of ideologies. However, not once did relations between Rashtrapati Bhawan and the Prime Minister’s Office come under visible strain. There were indeed occasions when President Mukherjee’s public interventions — after the murder of Mohammad Akhlaq in 2015, on campus violence, and on the lynchings by gau rakshaks — came close to a censure of the government,” the editorial read.

“Mukherjee’s farewell speech in Parliament on Sunday exemplified the values he sought to maintain in office. He described himself as a creation of Parliament, which, he reminded lawmakers, is essential as a platform for debate and discussion. To take the ordinance route to enact laws, he said, is to subvert institutional propriety and when laws are made without discussion in the House, it ‘breaches the trust reposed in it by the people’,” it said.

9.33 am: In view of the ceremonial functions and ceremonies around Rashtrapati Bhawan and Parliament House, avoid the following roads between 10.30am to 2.30pm: Vijay Chowk between North and South Fountain area; Rajpath, Rashtrapati Bhawan upto Janpath; Raisina road between Rail Bhawan to Parliament House; Dalhousie Road between Krishna Menon Marg and Moti Lal Nehru Marg connecting Vijay Chowk.

9.30 am: ‘Pluralism and tolerance’

That was the focus of President Pranab Mukherjee’s last address to the nation. “The soul of India resides in pluralism and tolerance. India is not just a geographical entity. It carries a history of ideas, philosophy, intellect, industrial genius, craft, innovation and experience. Plurality of our society has come about through assimilation of ideas over centuries. The multiplicity in culture, faith and language is what makes India special. We derive our strength from tolerance. It has been part of our collective consciousness for centuries,” he said.

“There are divergent strands in public discourse. We may argue, we may agree or we may not agree. But we cannot deny the essential prevalence of multiplicity of opinion. Otherwise, a fundamental character of our thought process will wither away,” Mukherjee said.  “My sacred text has been the Constitution of India. My temple has been the Parliament of India, and my passion has been the service of the people of India,” he said summing up the philosophy that defined his stint in the Rashtrapati Bhawan.

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