In his final address and farewell speech to Parliament as President of India, Pranab Mukherjee made special mention of his mentor, former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and the post Emergency era. President Mukherjee termed Indira a towering personality who guided his political career. “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 narrated 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,” Mukherjee said. “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 the people, Mukherjee recalled. Mukherjee added that after a few seconds of silence, there was laughter. Pranab added, nobody after that asked a question about Emergency and the media persons melted away.
Mukherjee also made special mention about governance and his tenure as the President of India. “As the President, I have tried to protect, preserve, defend the Constitution, not just in letter but in spirit as well,” Mukherjee said. He added Ordinance route should only be adopted in compelling circumstances. In an important message, Mukherjee said, “Parliament stands for debate, discussion, dissent and disruption hurts Opposition more.”
Earlier, Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan and Vice-President Hamid Ansari also addressed Parliament and made special mention of contributions made by President Mukherjee. “Shri Mukherjee’s rich valuable legacy holds valuable lessons for us,” Hamid Ansari said. “President Pranab Mukherjee’s views on national, international issues have enhanced the stature of the top office,” Ansari said.