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'Can't comment on Afzal Guru until I've assumed office'

Last updated on: July 23, 2012 16:36 IST

Winning the presidential election

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India's President elect Pranab Mukherjee, in an interview with CNN-IBN, said he was disturbed about the hatred between political parties.

Expressing happiness on being elected President, Pranab Mukherjee said,  "I am particularly happy that those who committed to extend their support...even those who did not belong to our party or formation...adhered to their commitments."   

"Normally that does not happen, but I appreciate and consider it a great reward to my long stay in public life that I have been able to get the support, love and affection of political establishments cutting across the party line," said the new President.

Mukherjee said that this understanding was essential for a political activist to carry on his activities and programmes.

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Image: India's President elect Pranab Mukherjee


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Incredible journey from Mirati to becoming President

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When asked about Pranab Mukherjee's incredible journey to the post of President, he said, "That it for people to judge me whether it is credible or incredible. But when I filed my nomination papers my mother's face flashed before my eyes. She was politically sensitive and conscious because my father was in politics from 1920 for a long period. I wondered what would be her comment if I am elected to be the President."

Pranab Mukherjee said that when he was appointed finance minister in 1982 then his mother's first reaction was 'you people are all enjoying but work will increase'... "Her perception was like that," he said.

"As a child I was very naughty but my mother was very strict and she used to give me a good deal of thrashing for being mischievous. My roots are in Mirati and I get back to it during the Durga puja festival," Mukherjee said.

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Image: Mughal gardens surrounding Rashtrapati Bhavan in New Delhi
Photographs: Reuters

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Presidency bringing Bengal to mainstream

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"Bengal has been highly political and sensitive. Naturally there may be regional aspirations and there is nothing wrong in it. Like there was Somnath Chatterjee; he was the first Bengali Speaker -- taking hold of a constitutional office," said Pranab Mukherjee.  

Mukherjee said that Bengal has led the way in some instances. "When the Rajya Sabha was constituted in 1952, Rajya Sabha's leader was a Bengali gentleman -- T C Biswas. He was minister in Nehru's cabinet," he said.

Pranab's sharp memory

"I read a lot and I read not only once. What I like I read umpteen number of times, even if it is fiction. My reading time is very undisciplined...whenever I get time I read something," he said. 

Message to Mamata Banerjee

"I talked to her, she was very nice. I have invited her to come to the swearing in, I hope she will come," he said.

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Image: Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee
Photographs: Reuters

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'I am going to be everybody's President'

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Mukherjee said he felt the opposition should have avoided making the charges because "none of these are substantially correct". "But I would not like to enter any controversy at this stage. I have put them behind. I have no hard feelings for anybody. I would take this opportunity to convey and make it quite clear that I don't have any hard feelings towards anybody. I am going to be everybody's President," he said.

Polarised politics

"Sometimes there is polarisation on issues. In the post independence politics -- particularly in 70s -- the politics was anti-Congress and major political parties were engaged in it. It is not a very healthy sign."

"Issues like whether the economy would be total market oriented, without any social intervention or not...these are issues that can be debated and there is nothing wrong in it. However, polarisation that generates heat and hatred that should not be there," said Mukherjee.

Role as President

"The role of the President has been very well laid out in the Constitution. All the Presidents have made their very valuable contributions but perhaps it would not be correct to say at this point who will be my role model. Every President has taken interest in development," he said.

On the challenges ahead, like the mercy petition of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru, Pranab Mukherjee said, "I can't comment on Afzal Guru until I have assumed office and have gone through the issue."


Image: Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru


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