In one year, he has travelled the entire country and interacted with people from all walks of life
New Delhi, 21 July
Completing a year in office on Thursday, President Pranab Mukherjee&’s significant contribution has been to bring the once forbidding Rashtrapati Bhavan closer to the common man.
Once the British viceroy&’s palatial residence-cum office, the 340-room red-stone edifice has been thrown open to the public as never before. Visit to Rashtrapati Bhavan by public is only an e-mail away. From any part of the country, just a click of the mouse ensures any aspiring visitor’s entry into the famed house and the 320 acre presidential estate which houses the Mughal Gardens, among other things. A pro-active and modern president, Mr Mukherjee, 77, boasts of a Facebook page with over 35,000 "likes". He is also on YouTube.
In the past one year, India&’s 13th President has travelled the length and breadth of the country and interacted with people from all walks of life ~ from governors to chief ministers and from artists to sportspersons and from teachers to children.
A university teacher to start with, Mr Mukherjee still retains the teacher&’s streak in him. Anyone who has followed him in parliament during his four decade political career, would have noticed the teacher in him as Mr Mukherjee explained some salient points of a financial decision or a political question. In a recent chat with some journalists accompanying him on a visit to Assam and Nagaland, Mr Mukhrjee revealed his love and passion for the teaching profession.
He said he would often narrate appropriate anecdotes to explain difficult features of a topic to the students. “In my enthusiasm, I would often overshoot my hour, leaving the next lecturer waiting outside the class room. As it happened often, my principal suggested that I take the last hour so that I could go on and on,” Mr Mukherjee said laughing. A man who relishes the turn of the phrase, Mr Mukherjee, in his acceptance speech last year, had described his innings in public life as a journey from “the flicker of a lamp in a small Bengal village to the chandeliers of Delhi”.
A political being at the core, Mr Mukherjee continues to feel the pulse of the people through personal interaction and meets the men and women from the political class. He has had recent meetings with from leaders across the political spectrum and also people from the judiciary over breakfast or lunch.
The President has not reduced his pace. “He leads a full life, people come to meet him to seek his counsel,” said a Rashtrapati Bhavan source..
A good morning walk in the Mughal Gardens prepares him for the day&’s work ahead. After a private puja, Mr Mukherjee is at his office table at 11 a.m. He watches parliament proceedings closely and keeps track of all the happenings. After all, Mr Mukherjee was the leader of the Lok Sabha almost to the day he was chosen as the Congress candidate for the presidential race last year and faced the House that erupted at the slightest provocation.