Colour and ceremony as Prez Pranab takes office
It was a day of pomp and pageantry, tradition and modernity as the country yesterday got its 13th president in 76-year-oldseasoned politician Pranab Mukherjee, who pledged to rise above partisan politics in his conduct of the high office.
Mukherjee, attired in a black sherwani and churidar, was administered the oath of office by Chief Justice of India at 11.28 am inside the central hall of the parliament. Escorted by his predecessor Pratibha Patil, he went from Rashtrapati Bhavan to parliament and then back to Rashtrapati Bhavan — this time as the first citizen — in a tableau of colour and ceremonial grandeur that has for decades marked this historic change of guard of democratic India’s top office.
The president’s mounted bodyguards, resplendent in their livery of white and with dark turbans to match, presented the national salute and 1,000 members of the three services lined along Raisina Hill for the ‘Hazar Salaam’ or thousand salute to the president — the supreme commander of the armed forces.
As the president’s black stretch limousine with the mounted guards moving alongside moved slowly to Parliament House, it made for a regal sight. As did the visual of Mukherjee sitting in the horse-drawn presidential buggy and taking the guard of honour in an open jeep. Mukherjee looked serious throughout the ceremony and broke into a smile only when waving to camerapersons from the presidential buggy.