Says too much should not be read into media speculation on his role in withdrawal

President Pranab Mukherjee steered clear of controversy when asked whether he had played an important role in the withdrawal of the ordinance on convicted legislators and emphasised that it was simply a case of the Cabinet reviewing its decision.

Speaking to journalists on board a special aircraft on Saturday, he obliquely suggested that too much should not be read into the speculation in the media that he had played a critical role in shaping the government decision to roll back the ordinance. The speculation got reinforced when BJP leader L.K. Advani praised Mr. Mukherjee for his role in the withdrawal of the ordinance. The President said, “I cannot comment on what the Opposition has said about my role.”

For good measure, Mr. Mukherjee added, “My duties are now completely determined by the Indian Constitution.” He also sought to underplay a public remark by the Belgian King that Mr. Mukherjee was a consensus builder in Indian polity.

Asked whether the King’s observations were suggestive of his future role as a “consensus builder” in the context of the 2014 general election, Mr. Mukherjee clarified, “The King was probably talking about my consensus building role in the past as an active parliamentarian. That situation doesn’t hold anymore as my role has completely changed as I have ceased to be a parliamentarian since June 25, 2012.”