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At governors' meet, Prez Pranab shows his tough side

Last updated on: February 13, 2013 18:40 IST

Prez Pranab shows who's the boss

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Years of handling unruly politicians inside Parliament and outside during his politician days is coming in handy for Pranab Mukherjee in his relatively new role -- that of President of India.

At the first governors' conference chaired by him, Pranab Mukherjee showed exactly why he was respected by his fellow party-men and opponents alike during his long political stint.

President Mukherjee kept an ironclad grip on the proceedings and ensured that no single event went off the pre-planned track.

He even wrung out assurances from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that the varied grievances of the governors -- about issues that plague their states -- would be addressed by the central government asap.

President Mukherjee also ticked off those governors who spoke out of turn or beyond time.

He pulled up Meghalaya Governor Ranjit Sekhar Mooshahary when the latter started his arguments about the Armed Forces Special Powers Act.

"I have dealt with this subject. There should be no deviation from the main agenda. Now, you speak on other issues," said Mukhrejee.

He is believed to have told the Mehalaya governor that since AFSPA was not on the agenda, they could have a one-on-one discussion on the issue but Mooshahary could not bring it up at the governors' conference.

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Image: President Pranab Mukherjee
Photographs: Adnan Abidi/Reuters

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When Gujarat Governor Kamala Beniwal went on reading her 36-page long speech, slowly and inaudibly, President Mukherjee again intervened, stating that Kamala's speech could be taken as 'read' by the conference.

During the conference, Andhra Pradesh Governor ESL Narasimhan demanded post-retirement protection -- to officials of the Indian Police Service and Indian Administrative Service -- from persecution by the Central Bureau of Investigation.

The PM assured Narasimhan that the issue will be given due consideration and the government will formulate a policy soon.

Interestingly, West Bengal Governor MK Narayanan took a cautious approach while revealing data about the President's home state. But he did point out that there was no coordination among the governments of West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh, which share a border, to tackle the common and deadly menace of Naxalism.

Once again, the PM assured the governors of both states that the Centre will address this issue with the due importance it deserves.

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Image: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
Photographs: B Mathur/Reuters

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Interesting, when Odisha Governor Murli Kant Bhandare argued his state's case twice, President Mukherjee rang the bell to indicate that the time allotted for each governor to speak -- 14 minutes -- was over.

President Mukherjee then announced, "Mr Bhandare, your allotted time is over," before calling the next speaker on the podium.

He also urged all the governors to take a tour of the newly lit-up and spruced-up Rashtrapati Bhavan. The governors were taken on the tour by President Mukherjee's secretary Omita Paul, who ensured that the visitors got a glimpse and a description of the impressive chambers in the presidential mansion.

According to insiders, President Mukhrejee only wanted a few ministers, not the entire cabinet, to be present at the governors' conference.

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Image: Andhra Pradesh Governor ESL Narasimhan
Photographs: Snapsindia

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In a marked departure from tradition, no cultural programmes were arranged this time to entertain the governors.

While Tamil Nadu Governor K Rosaiah spoke on the law and order in his state, Goa Governor B V Wanchoo spoke on the mining operations in the state and why they were stopped.

ESL Narasimhan acted as the Doyen of Governors for the second consecutive time. He presented a summary of events and gave details about the informal discussions held during the dinner organised for the governors on Sunday.

One of the governors who attended the conference summed it up accurately, "President Mukherjee conducted the conference too well and showed his mastery in such matters."

Interestingly, seven governors are currently serving an extended term -- they have been holding the top post in the state without a proper warrant of appointment from the President.

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Image: Tamil Nadu Governor K Rosaiah
Photographs: Snapsindia

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