NEW DELHI, July 25 – Pranab Mukherjee today became the 13th President of India capping a five-decade career that saw him play significant roles in government, Parliament and party.
76-year-old Mukherjee was administered the oath of office to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and law” by Chief Justice of India Sarosh Homi Kapadia at an impressive ceremony in the historic Central Hall of Parliament.
The veteran leader took the oath in English in the name of God to a thunderous applause and thumping of desks by those in the packed Central Hall that included Vice-President Hamid Ansari, Speaker Meira Kumar, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and outgoing President Pratibha Patil.
The gathering also included Cabinet Ministers, leaders of Opposition, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi, Governors, Chief Ministers, MPs and diplomats.
Just after he took oath, he was offered a 21-gun salute marking the assumption of office of the highest Constitutional post in the country.
In his brief acceptance address, he said the principal responsibility of this office is to function as the guardian of the Constitution.
“I will strive to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution not just in words but in spirit,” Mukherjee said.
He also said word poverty should be eliminated from the dictionary of modern India but felt trickle down theory would not work. He said hunger is a humiliation for the mankind.
Referring to the change of equations post-Cold War, he said the world was in the midst of fourth World War fighting terror of which India had the early experience.
Mukherjee ended his speech saying “there can be no greater reward for a public servant than becoming the First Citizen of the country.”
Before the function in Parliament, the outgoing President and the President-elect, wearing a black achkan, churidar (long coat, pyjama), drove a small distance in the bullet-proof Presidential limousine from the North Court to the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan. – PTI