On his second day at Rashtrapati Bhavan, President Pranab Mukherjee had his first meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
In a reversal of roles, it was Singh who drove to meet Mukherjee for what was described as a courtesy call. The new President had similar courtesy visits from Vice-President Hamid Ansari and Defence Minister A K Antony and Leader of Opposition Sushma Swaraj on Thursday.
On Friday, Venu Rajamony, a career diplomat, was appointed as the Press Secretary to President Mukherjee. Former President Pratibha Patil’s media advisor, Archana Dutta, and another Indian Information Service Officer, Devendra Mallick, who used to handle his media dealings in the Finance Ministry, were also in the run. So, were a few Bengali journalists. However, Mukherjee, keen on projecting a non-partisan image that is not bogged down by regional considerations, chose Rajamony to be his Press Secretary. Rajamony, a Joint
Secretary in the Ministry of Finance who dealt with international cooperation, is known to have a “very good equation’’ with Mukherjee.
He was in-charge of multilateral institutions, the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and ADB, in the Finance Ministry. Previously, he was Consul General in Dubai and has served nine years in Beijing and Hong Kong.
The same urge of acting above regional predilections could be detected in Mukherjee’s travel schedule as well. He is expected to visit Patna in August. He’s said to have promised Chief Minister Nitish Kumar - his long-time friend - that Bihar would be the first state he would visit after assuming office.