Ramnath Kovind was sworn in as the newest President of India at a ceremony that was organized at the Central Hall of the parliament at around 12.15 pm. He was accompanied by Pranab Mukherjee, his immediate predecessor, in what could be described as a ceremonial procession. Before this, as per rules, he met Mukherjee at the forecourt of Rashtrapati Bhavan and was escorted by the military at that time, as per the norms for such cases. At the parliament the presiding officers – Speaker of Lok Sabha and Vice-President, the Chairman of Rajya Sabha – greeted them first.
JS Kehar, the Chief Justice of India, was entrusted with the responsibility of administering the oath as is done in such cases. After taking the oath Kovind exchanged seats with Mukherjee. A 21-gun salute was given in his honour and after that the new president gave his first speech. The event was attended by a number of dignitaries such as Hamid Ansari, the Vice President of India, Narendra Modi, and Sumitra Mahajan, the speaker of Lok Sabha.
Who else were there?
The event was attended by a number of other dignitaries such as union ministers, ambassadors, governors, diplomats such as heads of various diplomatic missions of India, and chief ministers. Also in attendance were members of the parliament (MPs), and senior officers from civil and military ranks, as well. Once this ceremony came to an end Kovind headed to Rashtrapati Bhavan, located at Raisina Hill. Here at the forecourt he was given an inter-services guard of honour.
Mukherjee also shifted to his new address at 10 Rajaji Marg. However, before he left he gave a tour of Rashtrapati Bhavan to the new President. Incidentally, APJ Abdul Kalam, a former President and one of the noted scientists of India, has lived at Rajaji Marg as well. The ride to Rajaji Marg is also the last time that Mukherjee rode in the presidential limousine. In fact there had already been a dress rehearsal for same on July 22.
How did Kovind become the President?
Incidentally, Kovind came to power in quite convincing fashion by securing more than seven lakh votes. His opponent Meira Kumar got only 3.6 lakh votes, a figure far behind what Kovind got. Kovind, backed by National Democratic Alliance (NDA) received the votes of 522 MPs while Kumar got the votes of 225 MPs.
Is it a major shift?
Political experts do not really think that the election of Kovind to the post of President is a major shift and it is even being said that anyone who thinks as such is just naïve. In spite of being the first BJP backed Dalit candidate to have risen to this position these experts are stopping short of attaching any seminal importance to this ascent. KR Narayanan remains the first ever Dalit to have become the President of India. He was supported by Congress. They are also saying that this as such does not mean much for the community as well as well as for the party that backed him.