NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said Ram Nath Kovind's swearing-in as the next president is a "significant milestone" in the journey started by BJP's ideologue Shyama Prasad Mukherjee.
Modi made these remarks, according to party sources, at the BJP parliamentary party meeting held before Kovind was sworn in as the 14th president of India.
"The journey, which was started by Shyama Prasad Mukherjee and during which many lakh of people sacrificed everything, has reached a significant milestone today as the new president takes oath," Modi told party MPs, a BJP leader present in the meeting said.
Mukherjee had founded the party's precursor Jana Sangh in 1951.
The prime minister's comments assume significance as Kovind is the first BJP leader to occupy the highest constitutional position and the president's Dalit identity and humble origins have been underlined by the party, which has worked relentlessly to win over the community since coming to power in 2014.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ananth Kumar told reporters that Modi also asked law-makers to take up the three causes of the poor's welfare, social harmony and good governance to improve the life of the common man.
He asked them to hold 15-day long 'samkalp yatra' (journey for pledge) from Independence Day so as to ensure an improved quality of life for people in all parts of the country by 2022 when the country would celebrate 75 years of freedom, Kumar said.
He asked them to take pledge and administer pledge to citizens to do what they can to better the society.
Modi said India had attained new heights in 70 years since 1947 when it gained Independence and it was certain to emerge as a strong power in the world by 2022.
They have to work to ensure that the last man in the queue benefited from it, he said.
The first war of independence started in 1957 and then the launch of the Quit India movement marked the beginning of the country's march towards freedom, he said, asking the lawmakers to hold programmes between August 9, the Quit India's 75th anniversary and August 15.
Lawmakers were told to carry out 'Tiranga yatra' during the period.
Modi asked them to ensure their presence in the vice-presidential poll on August 5, a Saturday, and avoid mistakes which might make their votes invalid. In an apparent reference to absence of MPs from the two houses, he asked them to be present when parliamentary proceedings are on.
Kumar said the parliamentary party also condemned those Congress members who had thrown papers towards the Chair in the Lok Sabha yesterday.
They were suspended by the Speaker.