The inaugural speech of the new President, Ram Nath Kovind, the first with RSS-BJP background to occupy Rashtrapati Bhavan, makes references to icons held dear by the Sangh parivar and is conspicuous by the absence of reference to Congress stalwarts barring a few appropriated by saffron forces. It also recalls the famous principle of integral humanism propounded by Bharatiya Jana Sangh (BJS) founder Pandit Deen Dayal Upadhyay. Right in the beginning of his speech, Kovind recalls his predecessors and says: “I am conscious I am following in the footsteps of stalwarts such as Rajendra Prasad, S. Radhakrishnan and A.P.J. Abdul Kalam and my immediate predecessor Pranab Mukherjee, whom we address out of affection as ‘Pranab Da’.”
In the next sentence, he refers to the Independence being the result of efforts by thousands of patriotic freedom fighters led by Mahatma Gandhi. “Later, Sardar Patel integrated our nation. Principal architect of our Constitution Bhimrao Ambedkar instilled in us the value of the republican ethic,” he said, making no reference to first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru or any other Congress leader of that era. Kovind ended his speech citing the vision of Mahatma Gandhi and Deen Dayal Upadhyay. “We need to sculpt a robust, high growth economy, an educated, ethical and shared community and an egalitarian society, as envisioned by Mahatma Gandhi and Deen Dayal Upadhyayji.”
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“These are integral to our sense of humanism. This is the India of our dreams, an India that will provide equality of opportunities. This will be the India of the 21st century,” he said in an apparent reference to the concept of integral humanism propounded by Upadhyay at the Bharatiya Jana Sangh conference in 1965.