New Delhi: Putting aside two decade old tradition of having Presidents from non-active political background, Pranab Mukherjee, one of the most celebrated politicians of the country, has been elected as 13th President of India. It was in the year 1982 when Giani Zail Singh had become the 7th President of India who also hailed from active political background. 76-year-old Mukherjee was administered the oath of office to "preserve, protect and defend the constitution and law" by Chief Justice of India Sarosh Homi Kapadia at an impressive ceremony in the historic Central Hall of Parliament. The veteran leader took the oath in English in the name of God to a thunderous applause and thumping of desks by those in the packed Central Hall that included Vice President Hamid Ansari, Speaker Meira Kumar, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and outgoing President Pratibha Patil.
New Delhi: Putting aside two decade old tradition of having Presidents from non-active political background, Pranab Mukherjee, one of the most celebrated politicians of the country, has been elected as 13th President of India. It was in the year 1982 when Giani Zail Singh had become the 7th President of India who also hailed from active political background.
76-year-old Mukherjee was administered the oath of office to "preserve, protect and defend the constitution and law" by Chief Justice of India Sarosh Homi Kapadia at an impressive ceremony in the historic Central Hall of Parliament.
The veteran leader took the oath in English in the name of God to a thunderous applause and thumping of desks by those in the packed Central Hall that included Vice President Hamid Ansari, Speaker Meira Kumar, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and outgoing President Pratibha Patil.
The gathering also included Cabinet Ministers, leaders of opposition, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Governors, Chief Ministers, MPs and diplomats.
The oath said: “I, Pranab Mukherjee, do swear in the name of God that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the Republic of India, and will to the best of my ability preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and the law, and that I will devote myself to the service and well-being of the people of the Republic of India.”
Just after he took oath, he was offered a 21 gun salute marking the assumption of office of the highest Constitutional post in the country.
In his brief acceptance address, he said the principal responsibility of this office is to function as the guardian of the Constitution.
"I will strive to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution not just in words but in spirit," Mukherjee said.
He also said word poverty should be eliminated from the dictionary of modern India but felt tickle down theory would not work. He said hunger is a humiliation for the mankind.
Referring to the change of equations post Cold War, he said the world was in the midst of fourth World War fighting terror of which India had the early experience.
Mukherjee ended his speech saying "There can be no greater reward for a public servant than becoming the First Citizen of the country."
Before the function in Parliament, the outgoing President and the President-elect, wearing a black achkan, churidar (long coat, pyjama), drove a small distance in the bullet-proof Presidential limousine from the North Court to the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Patil received the last guard of honour from the horse mounted Presidential Body Guards (PBG) and then the two drove down the Raisina Hill to nearby Parliament House in a procession accompanied by the PBG.
At the Parliament House, they were received by the Vice President, Lok Sabha Speaker and the CJI. A guard of honour was presented after which they were ushered in to the Central Hall.
At the Central Hall, Home Secretary R K Singh read out the Election Commission notification announcing the election of Mukherjee to the highest Constitutional office.
Once the oath taking was over, Mukherjee and Patil exchanged seats on the dais in the Central Hall after which the new President made his speech.
After the function was over, Mukherjee and Patil were escorted out in a procession and the new President was again given a guard of honour by the PBG.
As Mukherjee walked through the aisle in the Central Hall, he received greetings all along from those assembled. He shook hands with the Prime Minister and towards the tail-end of the Hall smiles were exchanged between him and West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
Mukherjee and Patil then again went in a ceremonial procession to the Rashtrapati Bhavan for another round of guard of honour. He later escorted the outgoing President to 2, Tughlak Lane, her temporary home till she moves to her residence in Pune.
Pranab Mukherjee: The 13th President of India
Mukherjee pays homage to leaders before taking oath
The President elect early on Wednesday paid homage to Mahatma Gandhi and other top leaders at their memorials here before heading to Rashtrapati Bhawan to take oath as the 13th President of India.
Travelling in a Mercedes Benz S 600, Mukherjee first visited Rajghat to pay homage to the Father of the Nation.
After paying homage to Mahatma Gandhi, he paid respect to Rajiv Gandhi at Veer Bhumi.
Key facts about Presidents and presidential election in India
• President of India is elected for a period of five years. Dr Rajendra Prasad, the first President of India, was the only President who was elected for two (consecutive) terms (Jan 26, 1950 to May 13, 1962). Pratibha Patial is the lone female President of the country.
• India has witnessed 13 presidential polls during past six decades. First presidential poll took place in 1952 in which Dr Rajendra Prasad, who had been serving as the President since January 26, 1950 after being elected by the constituent assembly as the Parliament and many state assemblies were yet to be constituted, had defeated his nearest rival KT Shah.
• In every presidential election, the official nominee of the ruling party have been elected as the President except in 1969 when Congress’ (the ruling party) official nominee Neelam Sanjiva Reddy was defeated by the independent candidate V. V. Giri (Prime Minister Indira Gandhi who was estranged with the Party organization led by K Kamraj had called the Congress lawmakers for conscience vote and conscience vote had won.)
• Later in July 1977, when Janata Party was in power, N Sanjiva Reddy was elected the President of India unopposed. Reddy has been the lone President who was elected unopposed.
• KR Narayanan won 1997 presidential poll with the highest margin of votes.
• R. Venkataraman, who was the President of India between July 1987 and July 1992, worked with highest number of Prime Ministers (Rajiv Gandhi, VP Singh, Chandrashekhar and PV Narasimha Rao) as the politics of coalition era started in his tenure which is still continued and no political party since 1984-85 general elections has been able to win majority in the Lok Sabha on its own.
• The residence of the Viceroy of British India which is popularly known as Raisina Hill was renamed as Rashtrapati Bhawan after the independence of the country and is now the official residence of the President of the republic.