Modi hails President as guardian, mentor

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday praised President Pranab Mukherjee for helping him as a "guardian and mentor" in the last two years. Modi said the President had implemented and promoted the National Democratic Alliance government's flagship programmes despite the fact that the latter came from a different political background. "I was new to Delhi (as the Prime Minister). The atmosphere was new to me. On many subjects, the President, like a guardian, a mentor, held my finger and guided me. Only a few people get this privilege," Modi said while inaugurating the second phase of Rashtrapati Bhavan Museum here. "We can learn from President Mukherjee as to how people from diverse political backgrounds can work shoulder to shoulder," he added. "Today, I can proudly say that all the policies of the government of India have been implemented at Rashtrapati Bhavan, be it renewable energy, water conservation, environment-related policy and Digital India," Modi said. The Prime Minister said President Mukherjee's contribution to India is immense. "He has given a lot to the President's Office as well," said Modi. Speaking on the occasion, President Pranab Mukherjee said Indian democracy has moved from strength to strength as transfer of power from individuals as also from political parties has never posed any problem. "When I was elected (president) and before, I had been a Congress man throughout my life. After receiving a huge mandate (in the 2014 general elections), Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to see me and he correctly pointed out that my political background was different from his." "But that is the constitutional responsibility of the Indian President; not only me but all 13 presidents took the correct decisions," Mukherjee said. Sharing his experience about Rastrapati Bhavan as the 13th President of the republic of India, he said he had no idea about what lay inside this magnificent building. "My knowledge of Rashtrapati Bhavan was primarily limited to the Banquet Hall, Ashoka Hall, where I was sworn in as a union minister number of times, and the study of the President." "I had spent 43 years of my life near Rashtrapati Bhavan but I had no idea about it," the President said, while remembering his last four years on its premises. He said after seeing it closely, he thought of making it people-friendly by allowing more and more commoners to visit it on a regular basis. "This magnificent building belongs to the people of India and it should remain open to them," he said. Vice-President Mohammad Hamid Ansari said the day when Mukherjee completed four years in the magnificent Rashtrpati Bhavan "was an occasion enough to be celebrated".