President Pranab Mukherjee recalled his old links with The Statesman newspaper as he good-humouredly said he and the paper had often agreed to disagree with each other.

“As a Bengali and as a Calcuttan I grew up with The Statesman like many of my contemporaries,” President Mukherjee said in his address after receiving a photo-essay book “President Pranab Mukherjee ~ A Statesman” on Sunday. The book has been published by The Statesman. In a humorous aside, Mukherjee said even a Communist leader would refuse to go into rural areas without first getting a copy of The Statesman, even if it was the previous day’s edition.

Narrating a personal incident, the President said during his student days, scholars were often sent to China and Russia. He spoke about a senior Bengali editor, who visited “Soviet Russia” and wrote a long poem extolling the “awakening” in that country. Mukherjee had then written a letter to The Statesman’s editor, stating why the then “mass awakening” in the Damodar Valley could not be similarly captured and highlighted. He recounted that a senior Statesman staffer had then told him that art and creative talents could never be limited by time and geography. “It is beyond them, and their appeal is universal,” the President quoted the paper’s staffer as having said. “Since then, we (The Statesman and I) had agreed to disagree with each other. We love each other and also argue with each other. And we also agree to disagree.”