New Delhi: Outgoing President Ram Nath Kovid bid farewell to the nation on Sunday with a heart-warming speech. The President said he received full cooperation, support and blessings from all sections of society during his tenure. He also mentioned former President Pranab Mukherjee who apprised him of the functioning of the President and added that while holding the top office of the country, he was all along very cautious.
President-elect Droupadi Murmu will take the oath of the highest constitutional office in the country at 10.15am on Monday at the Central Hall of Parliament, where Chief Justice of India N.V. Ramana will administer the oath of office to her. Ms Murmu’s swearing-in will be followed by a 21-gun salute. She will then deliver a speech on the assumption of office.
In his farewell speech, Mr Kovind said, “During the five years of my term, I have discharged my responsibilities to the best of my ability. I have been conscious of being a successor to great icons like Dr Rajendra Prasad, Dr S. Radhakrishnan and Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. When I entered the Rashtrapati Bhavan, my immediate predecessor, Shri Pranab Mukherjee, also shared his wise counsel with me about my duties. Still, whenever I was in doubt, I turned to Gandhi ji and his famous talisman. His advice of recalling the face of the poorest man and asking myself if the step I am about to take will be of any use to him. At the risk of repeating myself, I will urge you to contemplate Gandhi ji’s life and teachings at least for a few minutes every day.”
Mr Kovind expressed deep gratitude to all his fellow citizens and elected representatives, saying he had blessings from all. He added that he would cherish his meetings with soldiers of armed and paramilitary forces and police personnel.
“Born in Kanpur dehat (rural) in a very ordinary family in Paraunkh village, this Ram Nath Kovind is today addressing the people of India. I could not have imagined this while growing up as an ordinary citizen of the country. For this, I salute the power of the vibrant democratic system of our country,” the President added.
He mentioned his visit to his family house in Kanpur and urged the youth of the country to stay connected with their roots, villages and teachers. “Among the most memorable moments of my life has been visiting my home during my term and touching the feet of my teachers at Kanpur to seek their blessings. The connection with our roots has been the essence of India. I would request the younger generation to continue this tradition of staying connected with their village or town, their schools and teachers,” President said.
In his speech, Mr Kovind also talked about climate change. “Mother Nature is in deep agony and the climate crisis can endanger the very future of this planet. We must take care of our environment, our land, air and water, for the sake of our children. In our daily lives and routine choices, we must be more careful to protect our trees, rivers, seas and mountains as well as all other living beings. As the first citizen, if I have to give one advice to my fellow citizens, it has to be this,” he said.
Before the swearing-in ceremony on Monday, Mr Kovind and Ms Murmu will arrive in Parliament in a ceremonial procession. Vice-president and Chairman of the Rajya Sabha M. Venkaiah Naidu, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla, members of the council of ministers, governors, chief ministers, heads of diplomatic missions, MPs and principal civil and military officers of the government will attend the ceremony.
At the conclusion of the ceremony in the Central Hall of Parliament, the President will leave for Rashtrapati Bhavan where an inter-services guard of honour will be given to her in the forecourt and courtesies will be extended to the outgoing President.
Ms Murmu will be the first President to be born after Independence and is the youngest to occupy the top post. She is also the second woman to become President. She will become the 10th successive president to take the oath on July 25 since 1977. Among those who took oath on this date include Neelam Sanjiva Reddy, Giani Zail Singh, R. Venkataraman, Shankar Dayal Sharma, K.R. Narayanan, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, Pratibha Patil, Pranab Mukherjee and Ram Nath Kovind.