Target poverty, says new Prez

Pranab sworn in; swears by Constitution

Target poverty, says new Prez

Taking oath as the country’s new President, Pranab Mukherjee on Wednesday pledged to “preserve, protect and defend” the Constitution, even as he called for continuing the national mission to eradicate poverty and said “trickle-down theories” would not help change lives of the poor in India. 

“Trickle-down theories do not address the legitimate aspirations of the poor. We must lift those at the bottom so that poverty is erased from the dictionary of modern India,” said Mukherjee, soon after he was sworn in as the President by Chief Justice S H Kapadia in the Parliament House’s Central Hall. “For our development to be real, the poorest of our land must feel that they are part of the narrative of rising India.”

The 76-year-old veteran left the 13 Talkatora Road bungalow—his home for the past many years—early on Wednesday and visited Rajghat to pay homage to Mahatma Gandhi. Before being driven in a black Limousine to Rashtrapati Bhavan for the ceremonial drill, he also paid tributes to Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi at their memorials in Shakti Sthal and Veer Bhumi,  ostensibly in a bid to reaffirm his gratitude to the first family of the Congress party that nominated him to the highest office in the country.

Mukherjee also sought to reassure the Opposition in his first speech as the President, when he noted that the high office of the President of India demanded that its occupant rose “above personal or partisan interests in the service of the national good.”

The new President termed the fight against terrorism the “fourth world war” and said practitioners of terror would not be able to deflect India from its mission to sit at the high table of prosperity.

“Corruption is an evil that can depress the nation’s mood and sap its progress. We cannot allow our progress to be hijacked by the greed of a few,” he added.
Mukherjee, dressed in a black “achkaan” (long coat) and a white churidaar, accompanied his predecessor Pratibha Patil from Rashtrapati Bhavan to the Parliament House in a cavalcade escorted by President’s mounted bodyguards.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and BJP veteran L K Advani joined others in applauding as Mukherjee exchanged seats with Patil after the swearing-in ceremony.

After the ceremonial guard of honour at Rashtrapati Bhavan, Mukherjee went with Patil to a bungalow at 2 Tughlaq Lane, where she would stay for the next few months. Mukherjee then returned to his new home, the majestic 340-room Rashtrapati Bhavan.

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