Outgoing president Pranab Mukherjee today in his farewell speech remembered his mentor and former prime minister Indira Gandhi. In his last speech as the President of India, Mukherjee said that Gandhi was a towering personality.
“My career was mentored by Mrs Indira Gandhi who was a towering personality. She had the courage to call a spade a spade,” Mukherjee said as he related an interesting incident that happened in London after the Congress’ defeat post Emergency.
“After the Congress’ and her own defeat post Emergency, she went to London in 1978. A battery of media persons, in a fairly aggressive mood were waiting to ask questions.
“The first question was: ‘What had been your gains from Emergency?’. Looking directly into the eyes of media persons, in a level voice she replied: ‘In those 21 months we comprehensively managed to alienate all sections of people’,” Mukherjee recalled.
After a few seconds of silence, there was laughter, he said.
“Nobody after that asked a question about Emergency and the media persons melted away,” he said.
He added that he also learnt an early lesson of acknowledging his mistakes and rectifying them. He said that self-correction in such situations was always a better option than self-justification.
In his speech, President Mukherjee also said that ordinance on money matters should be used only in compelling circumstances. Â He added that it was unfortunate that parliamentary time devoted to legislation has been declining.
While addressing the gathering, President Mukherjee lauded the recent passage of GST. He said that GST launch on July 1 was a shining example of cooperative federalism and that it spoke volumes for maturity of India’s Parliament.
During the farewell ceremony at the Parliament’s Central Hall, the Lok Sabha Speaker presented a book signed by MPs to the outgoing president.