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A stickler for rules, President Kovind completes a month in office

Kovind, the first leader from the BJP to occupy the post, completed one month in office last week.

india Updated: Sep 09, 2017 23:26 IST
Moushumi Das Gupta
Moushumi Das Gupta
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Ram Nath Kovind,President of India,President
President Ram Nath Kovind during the laying of foundation stone of Saurashtra Narmada Avataran Irrigation Yojana' (SAUNI) Phase-II Link-4- Ankadiya to Dhrafad Reservoir Project at Jasdan Taluk, Gujarat on Monday. PTI Photo(PTI9_4_2017_000167A)(PTI FIle Photo)

When President Ram Nath Kovind corrected Dharmendra Pradhan twice on Sunday while the latter was being sworn in as a cabinet minister, it brought smiles on the faces of many in the audience.

They were reminded of the swearing-in ceremony in July 2016 when then President Pranab Mukherjee intervened to remind Ramdas Athawale to take his name during the oath.

Kovind, the first leader from the BJP to occupy the post, completed one month in office last week. Rashtrapati Bhavan officials say there is not much difference between him and his predecessor, except in food habits and working hours. Both are avid readers and stickler for rules.

Kovind starts his day with a walk in Mughal Gardens at 5.30am, a hobby he shares with Mukherjee. He has just finished reading BG Verghese’ Waters of Hope: From Vision to Reality in Himalayan Ganga Development, a book on the varied water resources of the rich Ganga-Brahmaputra-Barak basin.

He comes to office by 10am and unlike his predecessor, who kept most of his meetings in the afternoon, Kovind prefers a morning schedule.

A vegetarian, the President also prefers making his own notes before speeches. For a function in Rashtrapati Bhavan on Teachers’ Day, Kovind insisted that he would speak extempore. He had also prepared the talking points for his acceptance speech on July 21 after winning the presidential elections. It was raining that day and Kovind spoke of how it reminded him of his childhood in a thatched house.

During the first month, he hosted dinner for veteran BJP leaders LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi with their families as well as the family of former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. “It was a special gesture to host the veteran leaders. Joshi, for instance, was the BJP president when Kovind joined the party,” said a functionary.

The President also hosted dinner for former Chief Justice of India JS Khehar, former President Mukherjee, former Vice-President Hamid Ansari and his successor M Venkaiah Naidu and their families.

Former prime ministers Manmohan Singh and HD Deve Gowda were among the political dignitaries who called on Kovind during the first month. So did 17 chief ministers and 60 Members of Parliament.

Kovind also spent substantial time drawing up a plan on promoting education as a tool of empowerment. Rashtrapati Bhavan insiders say education is a subject close to the President’s heart and he has very clear views on it. Kovind also gave his assent to seven central bills and approved seven other bills from different states.

His predecessor had introduced many firsts during his tenure such as an in-residence programme by opening up Rashtrapati Bhavan to artists, academics and the common man. Kovind has also made it a point to bring in his personal touch.

The President gifted Nepal Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba a collage of photographs from his last three visits to the Rashtrapati Bhavan. A similar collage was made for Swiss President Doris Leuthard from her previous visits to the President’s house and gifted to her when she called on Kovind last month.

First Published: Sep 09, 2017 23:26 IST