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Updated: July 19, 2012 04:00 IST

The Birbhum boy comes a long way

Smita Gupta
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For UPA presidential candidate Pranab Mukherjee, the last three days — after his whistle-stop countrywide tour ended on July 15 — have been a period of “reflection”. File photo
For UPA presidential candidate Pranab Mukherjee, the last three days — after his whistle-stop countrywide tour ended on July 15 — have been a period of “reflection”. File photo

It is suddenly quiet: there are no meetings to attend, no files to sign, he says

For United Progressive Alliance (UPA) presidential candidate Pranab Mukherjee, the last three days, — after his whistle-stop countrywide tour ended on July 15 — have been a period of “reflection” at 13, Gurdwara Rakab Ganj Road, a Lutyens’ bungalow that has been his home since 1996.

Sitting in his Spartan study, beneath a large portrait of his mentor, Indira Gandhi and flanked by a smaller one of her with a young Pranab, he is in a reminiscent mood, talking to a group of journalists, recalling the many official residences he has occupied during the years — from 2, Jantar Mantar Road, to 11, Ashoka Road (for many years, the BJP office) to 7, Gurdwara Rakab Ganj Road, to his current home.

It was only between 1986 and 1996 he lived in his own home in Greater Kailash. Didn’t he ever want to move to a larger bungalow (13, Gurdwara Rakab Ganj Road is a modest-sized bungalow for someone who was number two in the government)? “Mrs. Mukherjee,” he smiles and says, “didn’t want to move.”

On Wednesday, on the eve of the presidential election, Mr. Mukherjee is gearing up for what will, in all likelihood, be his new job, seeking inspiration in the “speeches and writings” of the distinguished former President, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan. He says he has just learnt that Dr. Radhakrishnan, in his acceptance speech, announced that the government would be conferring Bharat Ratna on his predecessor, India’s first President, Rajendra Prasad.

After the whirlwind campaigning and the 24x7 schedule of his political life in the last four decades, it is suddenly quiet: there are no meetings to attend, no files to sign, he says, no Groups of Ministers to preside, even though the stream of visitors is unending. For his personal staff, it’s a moment to savour, as they prepare to move into the big house around the corner.

Clearly, Mr. Mukherjee — a stickler for rules — is preparing his mind for the drill to be followed in the next week or so, from the voting slated for Thursday, to the grandeur of the swearing-in ceremony on July 25 in the historic Central Hall of Parliament, to the “exchange of chairs,” the acceptance speech, the ride to Rashtrapati Bhavan with outgoing President Pratibha Patil, where both will receive separate guards of honour, interspersed by a cup of tea inside. The new president will then escort the outgoing President to her new residence on Delhi’s Tughlak Lane. (This, of course, will be a temporary home for Ms. Patil, because she will eventually move to Pune, when her post-retirement home there is ready.)

Mr. Mukherjee will be the third sitting MP to become President — those who preceded him were Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed and Zail Singh. And he will be the first Leader of the House (Lok Sabha) to make the transition to Rashtrapati Bhavan.

The phone rings — it is a call from a relative and he responds, “Yes, this morning I was thinking of Ma, too,” — and then becomes quiet for a moment. For the boy who grew up in a remote village in West Bengal’s Birbhum district, it’s been a long journey.

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It is a moment of reminiscence and reflection of the simple and straight forward ambitious
Birbhum boy,the great opportunity the democratic India and it's people can offer-equal
opportunity,justice to one and all,liberty to argue and express views-.Individual freedom to
express,profess,live and let others to live are basic to Indias constitution.The day when
former Finance Minister is crowned as the First President,the whole India will rejoice.Here
is a great country and great people,where a young boy born in Birbhum in Great Bengla
was given opportunity to become the first citizen.Dr A P J Abdul Kalam in TURNING POINT
recalls the call from Atal Behari Vajpai then PM ,when he was teaching at Anna
University,to accept the offer to the candidate for the President.The tryst of destiny has
taken a repeat,when a PM in waiting is called to the highest position of President and
supreme commander of Indian Armed Forces.I await a TRYST OF DESTINY from Pranab
Dada.May Almighty bless him.

from:  Dr K V Peter
Posted on: Jul 19, 2012 at 17:49 IST

The article is a fine one. What I would like to add is that becoming PM of India was not in his CV. We wanted to see him as the PM when India faced a crisis of leader immediately after the sad demise of Indira Gandhi, but Rajiv was brought to the fore to capture emotional gains from her departure.Mr Mukherjee was then 2nd in command as he was everafter, but he was not made.Mukherjee was sidelined from the Congress during the Rajiv the Gandhi era. He was rightful successor to Indira Gandhi.He was victim of South lobby Even after the sad demise of Rajiv, whom he served well he was not made PM but PV Narsimha Rao was.He formed his own political party, the Rashtriya Samajwadi Cong, but later compromised with Rajiv in 89. He was the principal architect of Sonia's entry into politics in the 1990s. He was Leader in the Lok Sabha from 04 to 12, but he was not the PM. Nor could he when Manmohan Singhji failed to win 99 Lok Sabha seat from South Delhi. But becoming the rubber stamp is easier.

from:  Gokul Burman
Posted on: Jul 19, 2012 at 17:08 IST

the president is nothing but a rubber stamp in indian constitution no powers have been allocated to him except being the commander of armed forces,
why such a fuss?

from:  mark
Posted on: Jul 19, 2012 at 14:57 IST

I want to make a point here on Presedential Election. 01.It is almost a decisive game where the President is selected, nominated and finally installed in the palace of Rasiana Hills. Then why this process of Election Always it is the ruling party who decides. .( I felt the the total energy spent here for this occasion may be used still in a better way.)If the ruling party or the group with max powers appoints a president who is there to question, that too with a present weak opposition. 02. The BJp has un necessarly wasting its energy in fielding an other candidate. They must have either abstained or moved along the wind. They will now cut a sorry figure no doubt. 03. With the TMC playing hide and seek and then supporting UPA nominee must be still having quite a lot of hidden games of the like. 04.There is a need for a change in the mind set of this Presidential Election system. 05. politicians instead of fighting for power and personal gains should re-think.

from:  K.S. Rangarajan
Posted on: Jul 19, 2012 at 08:13 IST

For a person who has been very active through out his life, in politics,
in Govt, it is really difficult to adjust the time when he is honoured
with the top post for his abilities, where his mind has to cope up with
new thinking different from his past party arena. He has to guide the
Govt in right direction impartially. Wish him all the best.

from:  D.Ramakrishnan
Posted on: Jul 19, 2012 at 07:36 IST
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