New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi heaped praises on President Pranab Mukherjee, who completed four years in office today, calling him a “guardian and mentor” who held his finger and guided him on various subjects when he took over as prime minister two years ago.
“I was new to the world of Delhi. The atmosphere was new to me. On many subjects, the President, like a guardian, a mentor, held my finger and guided me. Very few people are as privileged as I am,” he said while inaugurating the second phase of Rashtrapati Bhavan museum.
Lauding the initiatives taken to preserve history at Rashtrapati Bhavan and also its restoration, Modi said Mukherjee has given a lot to the nation in his long public life and also to the historic building during his four-year tenure.
He said Mukherjee made Rashtrapati Bhavan a converging point between a common man and highest seat of power.
“Important thing is my political background is different, President’s political background is different but we can feel every moment in his company how people with different political upbringing can work shoulder to shoulder to in democracy,” he said.
Modi also said effort is made almost all the schemes of his government are implemented in President’s Estate, which he called a “village with a population of over 10,000”, in miniature form even when some state governments feel hesitation to announce them.
“If there is government of a person of different political party yet the schemes of that government becoming schemes of Rashtrapati Bhavan, this greatness can only be shown by Pranab da,” he said.
“History works like a medicine in life. People who forget
history lose essence of life. The sculptures in temples are made of stone but because of devotion of people they acquire the status of gods. The stones of historical places carry history which shows the way forward. We have to hear that stone,” Modi said.
Mukherjee, in his speech, said since 1950 when Babu Rajendra Prasad became the first President of the Republic, Indian democracy has moved from strength to strength.
“…India is a country where transfer of power from individual to individual, party to party has never posed any problem even for a single hour,” he said.
Mukherjee said there was a lot of speculation before the 2014 general elections but when after receiving the mandate Modi came to see him, he simply said that he was ready with his appointment letter as the Prime Minister of the Republic and asked when will he be taking oath.
“When I was elected and before that throughout my life, I have been a Congressman. As Prime Minister correctly pointed out my background was little different from his political background but the constitutional responsibility of Indian President, not only me but all the 13 Presidents, they took different decisions…,” he said.
The President said during his entire political life he lived a “stone’s throw” from Rashtrapati Bhavan but knew very little about it as he had visited only three sections–Dining Hall, Ashoka Hall and Study of the President.
Mukherjee lauded his team for the restoration work of Rashtrapati Bhavan and said the building has witnessed history and it needs to be told.
He appreciated the gesture of the Prime Minister to spend time at the inauguration ceremony when Parliament Session was underway.
Vice-President Hamid Ansari said anniversaries are happy occasions and should be celebrated but this was an anniversary with a difference.
“Rashtrapati ji’s four years in office and successful four years in office are an occasion to celebrate and celebrate with gusto,” he said.
He said the evening’s programme was different “qualitatively and excitedly” as a new museum was added to the national capital which is facing a paucity of museums. This museum will educate the public about certain aspects of recent history which need to be “learnt and learnt well”.
Besides inauguration of the museum by the Prime Minister, a number of portfolios and books were released on the occasion. A hop-on-hop-off bus was also flagged off.
Three portfolios of paintings in Rashtrapati Bhavan published by the Lalit Kala Akademi and five new books on Rashtrapati Bhavan published by the Publications Division were released by the Prime Minister and the Vice-President.
The books by Publications Division are ‘Around India’s First Table: Dining and Entertaining at Rashtrapati Bhavan’, ‘The Arts and Interiors of Rashtrapati Bhavan: Lutyens and Beyond’, ‘Discover the Magnificent World of Rashtrapati Bhavan’,’A Work of Beauty: The ArchitectureandLandscape of Rashtrapati Bhavan’ and ‘First Garden of the Republic: Nature in the President’s Estate’
The portfolios titled ‘Paintings in the Ashoka Hall of Rashtrapati Bhavan’, ‘Company Paintings in Rashtrapati Bhavan’ and ‘Select Paintings of Rashtrapati Bhavan’ can be purchased from the Lalit Kala Akademi, New Delhi.
The President also launched a tourist-centric micro-site on the Rashtrapati Bhavan website which will contain information on Rashtrapati Bhavan as a tourist destination and its three new tourist circuits namely, the main building, museums and the gardens.
The President said the first decision he took on assuming Presidency was that people must know about the life in Rashtrapati Bhavan.
He said he was happy to say that on conclusion of four years he had been able to open the doors of Rashtrapati Bhavan to the common people.
“Rashtrapati Bhavan had been a mute witness to the evolution of history in the modern period and of the time when the largest functional democracy of the world started operating,” he said.
The Phase-II Museum, spread over 10,000 square meters, is a hi-technology story-telling museum.
The museum depicts the story of the planning and construction of Rashtrapati Bhavan; the British Viceroys who occupied the building till 1947; their reaction towards the tumultuous freedom movement in the country; the transfer of power; the formation of the Republic; the life and work of 13 Presidents of India since 1950; life in Rashtrapati Bhavan; the beauty and environment of the campus, the people working there and important visitors, etc.