With reference to the demand of debate on the lines of US election, made by his rival and opposition nominee P A Sangma, UPA's Presidential candidate Pranab Mukherjee said in Mumbai that Presidents in India do not decide policy, and there can be no debate on "personality".
"On Presidential debates in US and France, the answer is very simple. In those countries, in their constitution, the president, directly elected by the people, is the chief executive.
"He formulates and implements those policies, articulates the programmes and works on those programmes," Mukherjee said, addressing a meeting of MLAs and MPs of Congress and NCP in Maharashtra in Mumbai on Friday evening, as a part of election campaign.
The Indian constitution is different, he said. "Every government transaction is transacted in the name of the President... but the council of ministers, headed by the Prime Minister, exercises the real executive power.
"Debate on what? Debate can take place on policy, not on personality. Not on individual but on programmes," he said.
"But this does not mean that India's president is merely an ornamental post. Yes, it is substantially ornamental, ceremonial but in certain crucial sectors, the President of the republic has the responsibility," he said.
The constitution is something more than a legal document, Mukherjee said, as it represents aspirations of the people.
NCP chief and Union minister Sharad Pawar, Union ministers Vilasrao Deshmukh, Sushilkumar Shinde, Praful Patel, Rajeev Shukla and V Narayanasamy, Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, and former Goa Chief Minister Digamber Kamat were present on this occasion.
Pawar described Mukherjee as the troubleshooter of UPA, saying whenever there was a crisis, the PM first looked at Mukherjee.
"In the House, he could be aggressive and fiery in one moment but cool the next," he said.