Pranab Mukherjee, the ruling UPA’s key strategist and a long-time minister, was yesterday elected India’s 13th president by an overwhelming majority of MPs and legislators across the political spectrum, leaving his rival PA Sangma bruised. One of country’s most experienced and canny politicians, Mukherjee won the sweepstakes with a massive margin, bagging 713,763 votes, about 70 percent, leaving Sangma way behind with 315,887 votes. Sangma projected himself as a representative of “tribals,” but his sales pitch simply did not work.
“I thank all the people of my country. And with the emotions and feelings that I have sensed in the common people revolving round this presidential election, it felt like it was not a presidential election but a general election,” Mukherjee said. A bitter Sangma, former Lok Sabha speaker supported by the BJP, AIADMK and Biju Janata Dal, accepted defeat, but called for a “code of conduct” for the presidential polls and said the election this year has been exceptionally “political”. It is likely to be a political term too.
However, for the Congress-led UPA, it was a moment to cherish. There were rejoicings and celebratory fireworks. All roads, it appeared, led to Mukherjee’s Talkatora Road residence. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, her son and party general secretary Rahul Gandhi called on the president-elect.
The parties began soon after the wooden ballot boxes were opened at Room 63 of Parliament House, and it became evident that Mukherjee would emerge the victor. “I can’t explain how happy I am,” said his elder sister Annapurna Devi. She recalled her brother as being very mischievous as a boy. “He would tell me to wait, and I would have to keep standing... If I moved, he would pull my hair and tell me, ‘Didn’t I tell you to wait for me’,” she said. Unfortunately, Annapurna Devi, 86, will be unable to attend the ceremony to see the naughty boy become India’s new president.
Son’s request to President father
Pranab Mukherjee’s son Abhijit has one request for his father — get Sarabjit Singh and other Indian prisoners languishing in Pakistan jails freed soon. “As a citizen I would request him to ensure that Indian prisoners like Sarabjit Singh who are imprisoned in Pakistan are released. I personally feel this should be his first work as president,” said Abhijit, who himself is an MLA.
Kuch meetha ho jaae!
Motichoor laddoos, malai kulhars and the evergreen sandesh... Sweets were being distrubuted galore yesterday after Pranab Mukherjee was elected president of India. Besides the sweets, the supporters who had gathered at his house were treated to khasta kachoris, dahi bhallas and idli sambhar. All the savouries at his House No. 13 on Talkatora Road in central Delhi, came from Bangla Sweet House and Kaleva Sweets. Kaleva’s owner Jawahar Lal expressed his satisfaction at being the preferred supplier of sweets for the president-elect, who is himself said to be a sweets lover.