New Delhi, Oct 8: The politician in President Pranab Mukherjee continues to score in the art of making friends and influencing people.
The 77-year-old president may no longer need to influence people as he did for his party to weather many a parliamentary storm when he was its senior leader.
But he continues to win them over with simple communication and connecting skills. This was evident in equal measure on his six-day visit to Belgium and Turkey from which he returned Tuesday morning.
As he finished his on-board interactions on his way back from Ankara, aides asked accompanying journalists — most of whom the president knew personally — to stand behind him in groups for the customary takeaway photo-op.
Two senior journalists, both from vernacular papers, were taking time to get up from their seats, especially one who had taken ill during the flight. Never a man to follow rigid protocols, the president immediately insisted the two need not come to him.
Instead, Mukherjee — who had pursued journalism before joining politics — walked up to the seats of the two elderly journalists and engaged them in an informal banter as the official photographers on board recorded the moment.
The erudite, and often witty, head of state, who had ordered the discontinuation of the usage “His Excellency” before his name as soon as he took over office as 13th president July 25 last year, showcased his fine connecting skills both in Brussels and Ankara.
He kept aside his prepared speeches and spoke extempore to local Indian diaspora in a rather simple, yet effective, language.
Backed by facts and figures, he sought to assure the audience that there was no need to despair about India’s future and that the country will overcome its economic woes “sooner than later”. The economy was resilient enough to face all kinds of challenges, he said.
The audience at both places returned impressed at the head of state’s reassuring message to the “27 million Indian diaspora abroad”.