New Delhi, Feb. 10: From a key player in politics, President Pranab Mukherjee has turned into a spectator. From sitting in the Lok Sabha’s front row right next to the Prime Minister, he has moved on to watching Parliament proceedings on television.
So, Mukherjee has now started doing many of the things he missed out on during his 40 years as a politician and lead strategist of the Congress, sources said.
For one, he is catching up on reading. He is poring over voluminous documents on the transfer of power from the British Raj, and is believed to have gone through the first budget presented in independent India.
For another, Mukherjee has begun watching movies. “Earlier, he never had the time to see films. Now he has the leisure, so he has seen four-five movies since he took over as President,” said one of his close aides.
Mukherjee has seen Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln, a historical drama on the last four months in the life of former American President Abraham Lincoln. Another movie he managed to catch was Richard Attenborough’s Gandhi.
The transition from politician to President means Mukherjee cannot speak extempore any more. “He has been used to speaking extempore during his career as a politician. But now protocol demands that he read out of a written speech,” the aide said.
Mukherjee is also working on a couple of books. But a biography is not in the pipeline. He has been keeping a diary since he began his career, chronicling key political transitions in the country.
For months before his candidature for President was announced, there was debate in political circles and in the media on who the Congress candidate would be. The only hint Mukherjee dropped at that time was that he had very little space for a morning walk in his ministerial bungalow at 13 Talkatora Road. Now, he starts his day at 7am with a walk in the Mughal Gardens.
But it’s not all leisure for the President, who has taken some tough decisions. In his seven months in office, he has rejected three mercy petitions, the last one that of Afzal Guru who was hanged yesterday.