"I am a creation of this Parliament whose political outlook and persona has been shaped by this temple of democracy," said President Pranab Mukherjee while addressing the parliamentarians during his farewell ceremony on the eve of his demitting office as the 13th President of India.
He expressed gratitude and thanked the MPs for organising the farewell ceremony. He will make way for his successor and President-elect Ram Nath Kovind. He will also vacate the Rashtrapati Bhavan at Raisina Hill, New Delhi, on Monday and shift his residence to former President A P J Abdul Kalam's bungalow at 10, Rajaji Marg.
Speaking on the importance of the Constitution, he said, "Indian Constitution not merely a legal document for administration but the Magna Carta of socio-economic transformation. Indian Constitution represents the hopes and aspirations of the billion plus Indians."
"In last five years, my principal responsibility was to function as the guardian of the Constitution. As I had said on oath, I strived to preserve, protect and defend our Constitution, not just in word but also in spirit." He further adds. "In this task, I greatly benefitted from the advice and cooperation extended by Prime Minister Modi at every step."
On the cooperation between the Centre and states, he said, "Recent passage of GST & its launch on 1st July is a shining example of cooperative federalism and speaks volumes of the maturity of India's Parliament."
Opining on the Centre's role while taking ordinance route, he said, "I am of the firm opinion that the ordinance route should be used only in compelling circumstances and there should be no recourse to ordinances on monetary matters."
However, he also says that it is unfortunate that the parliamentary time devoted to legislation has been declining, adding, "With the heightened complexity of administration, legislation must be preceded by scrutiny and adequate discussion. Scrutiny in committees is no substitute to open discussion on the floor of the House. When Parliament fails to discharge its law-making role it breaches the trust reposed in it by the people."
He also told the opposition not to disrupt proceedings in both the Houses of Parliament as it took away from it the opportunity to raise people's concerns.
"For 37 years, I served as a Member of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. My long career has been instructive and educative. Listening to stalwarts for hours and days in Parliament, I understood the real value of debate, discussion and dissent," he said on his near 4-decade parliamentary career.
"As I retire from the Office of the President of the Republic, my association with the Parliament also comes to an end. I will no longer be a part of the Parliament of India," said Mukherjee.
"It will be with a tinge of sadness and a rainbow of memories that I will be leaving this magnificent building today," adds the 13th President.
"I will carry with me fond memories of my association with Prime Minister Modi and his warm & courteous behaviour," said he, on his relation with the Prime Minister.
He also remembered the former prime ministers of India, including late Indira Gandhi.
Concluding his address shouting 'Jai Hind' at the Central Hall of the Parliament, the President remarked, "I leave with a sense of fulfilment & happiness of having served the people of this country — as their humble servant."
Earlier, Lok Sabha Speaker presented a book signed by the members of Parliament. The book includes signatures of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress president Sonia Gandhi, Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha Thambidurai, and deputy chair of Rajya Sabha P J Kurien.
"President Mukherjee brought a presidential focus and centrality to human development," Mahajan said in her address.
Rajya Sabha Chairman and Vice-President Hamid Ansari, while addressing the Central Hall, spoke of the "long and distinguished" career of President Mukherjee, adding he has been an erudite scholar, along with being an excellent statesman.
Earlier on Saturday, President Mukherjee attended a farewell dinner hosted by Prime Minister Modi.
The Prime Minister hosted the ceremony at the Hyderabad House in New Delhi, where president-elect Ram Nath Kovind, Vice-President Hamid Ansari, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, senior ministers and Opposition leaders were also present.
The president, who is also Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, was also given a farewell by the chiefs of the armed forces. The function was held at the Manekshaw Centre.
President Mukherjee will address a farewell speech to the nation at 7.30 pm on Monday, July 24.
President-elect Ram Nath Kovind will take oath as the 14th President of India on Tuesday, July 25.