NEW DELHI: Members of Parliament on Sunday bid adieu to outgoing President Pranab Mukherjee at a gala ceremony in the Central Hall as leaders across the political spectrum recalled his contribution in upholding democratic values. Eighty one-year-old Mukherjee was received by Vice President Hamid Ansari, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar at the Parliament for the farewell ceremony.
In her speech, Mahajan said, “This is a solemn occasion for each one of us to express our profound respect to President Mukherjee.” Ansari on his part lauded Mukherjee for his “unshakable belief in the idea of India” and said he often appealed to the people to re-dedicate themselves to the democratic values of the country.
The outgoing president expressed gratitude to the parliamentarians for the farewell. “After Independence, we undertook to promote fraternity, dignity and unity of the nation. These ideals became the lodestar for the country,” Mukherjee said. Urging members to avoid frequent disruptions in Parliament, he said, “During my years in Parliament, I learnt that it stands for debate, discussion and dissent. I also learnt that disruptions hurt the opposition more.”
Stating that the government should avoid the Ordinance route, he said, “The Ordinance route should be used only in compelling circumstances and there should be no recourse to Ordinances on monetary matters. Ordinance route should not be taken on matters which are being considered or have been introduced in the House or a committee of the House. If a matter is deemed urgent, the concerned committee should be made aware of the situation and be mandated to present its report.
Pranab Mukherjee lauded the democratic spirit in Parliament saying, “The recent passage of Goods and Services Tax and its launch on 1st July is a shining example of co-operative federalism and speaks volumes for the maturity of Indian Parliament. To be a part of this system is a unique experience and I am grateful to the people of this great country for giving me that opportunity.”
“As the President, I have tried to protect, preserve and defend the Constitution, not just in letter, but in spirit as well.” He concluded by saying, “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.”
Mukherjee entered Parliament for the first time 48 years ago at the age of 34 in July 1969 as a member of the Rajya Sabha. He served as a Member of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha for 37 years. He represented the Rajya Sabha for five terms and two terms in the Lok Sabha.