The President is the first citizen of the country and is also the Head of the State and Supreme Commander of the armed forces. With just a few hours left for the 2017 presidential poll let us take a look at the past five presidents of India.
Term of Office: 19 July 2012 - 25 July 2017
In the 2012 presidential election UPA candidate Pranab Mukherjee took on PA Sangma where 7,13,763 electoral votes went in favor of UPA and 3,15,987 were cast in favor of NDA government.
During his tenure, Pranab Mukherjee cleared 32 mercy petitions of which 28 of them were rejected. Some of the prominent ones dating back to 2000 include Parliament attack convict Mohammed Azfal Guru and 26/11 Mumbai attacker Mohammed Ajmal Kasab.
Pranab Mukherjee's presidential tenure ends next week on the 25th of July.
Term of Office: 25 July 2007 to 25 July 2012
In the 2007 presidential election UPA candidate Pratibha Patil received 6,38,116 electoral votes in her favor compared to NDA candidate Bhairon Singh Shekhawat who managed to get a meager 3,31,306.
The first woman president of the country Pratibha Patil's drew a lot of flak for waiving off death penalties of 35 convicts during her term in office. According to news reports, Pratibha Patil's foreign travel has cost the public exchequer a whopping Rs. 205 crore on her foreign visits, surpassing the record of all her predecessors. Since assuming office as president in July 2007, Patil undertook 14 foreign tours covering 24 countries across four continents.
According to official information accessed through RTI, on her last trip abroad shortly before demitting office cost Rs 18.08 crore. The reports from India Today stated that many of Patil's friends and relatives used to accompany her on these trips.
In addition to this a Mail Today article claimed that the gifts received by the president are usually deposited with the official treasury of gifts. But this rule was not followed when Pratibha Patil was the President.
Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam
Term of Office: 25 July 2002 to 25 July 2007
For the first time, Congress backed an NDA candidate at the 2002 presidential poll. As a result of two major national political parties supporting independent candidate Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam, he won hands down claiming 9,22,884 electoral votes defeating his nearest opponent Capt. (Dr.) Lakshmi Sahgal from LDF who came distant second bagging just 1,07,366 electoral votes.
Fondly called as "People's President", APJ Abdul Kalam has always been considered one of the best Presidents of India. Kalam's powerful speeches delivered at European Parliament and UN were considered as among the best. This key passage from his speech at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France touched millions of hearts across the globe.
"Where there is righteousness in the heart
There is beauty in the character.
When there is beauty in the character,
There is harmony in the home.
When there is harmony in the home,
There is order in the nation.
When there is order in the nation,
There is peace in the world."
On 27 July 2015, Kalam was in Shillong to deliver a lecture at the Indian Institute of Management. Only five minutes into his lecture, the former president collapsed and was rushed to the nearby Hospital in a critical condition. Despite being placed in the intensive care unit, Kalam was confirmed dead of a sudden cardiac arrest.
The entire country went into mourning showing how much the 'Missile Man of India' meant to the people.
Term of Office: 25 July 1997 to 25 July 2002
In the 1997 presidential poll, Congress nominated KR Narayanan as their candidate and the election turned out to be a one sided contest with Narayanan bagging 94.97 % electoral votes (9,5,6,290) compared to his opponent who managed to claim just 50,631 electoral votes.
KR Narayanan was the first person from Dalit community to hold the position of President. The most memorable incident one could recollect about the former President is the fact that despite holding onto the highest office of India he went on to cast his vote in the 1998 general election joining the other citizens at the polling booth.
Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma
Term of Office: 25 July 1992 to 25 July 1997
Congress candidate Shankar Dayal Sharma received 6,75,864 electoral votes in the 1992 presidential election while National Front candidate George Gilbert Swell ended up a distant second with 3,46,485 electoral votes.
Shankar Dayal Sharma's powerful speech at India's 50th year of Independence in 1997 will always be remembered by the people of the country. His speech covered various topic including crimes against weaker sections and women, acts of violence and intimidation, challenge our claims of building an egalitarian society.
Mulayam Singh Yadav in 2013 claimed that the late president was aware of the plan to demolish the Babri Masjid.
The SP chief, who claimed he went to seek the then President’s intervention for the security of the mosque, drew further ridicule saying the President told him that he had definite information that the Babri mosque would be demolished and also cautioned him to not to share this information with anyone.