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    Indian President’s daughter turns politician Featured

    July 28, 2014

    Indian President Pranab Mukherjee’s daughter Sharmishtha Mukherjee has decided to enter politics and applied to be enrolled as a primary member of the Congress Party, according to a news report published by The Hindu on its online edition yesterday.

    The Hindu story filed from New Delhi said: “Kathak danseuse and President Pranab Mukherjee’s daughter Sharmishtha Mukherjee’s decision to turn politician may have come as a shot in the arm for the Congress in Delhi, which faced a drubbing in the last Assembly and general elections. But her new role will leave a void in Rashtrapati Bhavan where she used to step in as a hostess for ceremonial functions, filling in for her mother Surva Mukherjee, who does not step out much owing to her health concerns.

    Sharmishtha has followed in the footsteps of her father and brother, Jangipur MP Abhijit Mukherjee, and thrown in her hat into the political ring. “I have decided to join politics and enrolled as a primary member of the Congress. It is for the high command to decide what role I will play, though I am up for any challenge,” she told The Hindu.

    Ms. Mukherjee, an acclaimed dancer who has performed across the globe and earned rave reviews for some of her productions, has been vocal on issues of women’s safety, the state of arts and animal rights. She will, however, have to step aside from her duties at the Rashtrapati Bhavan. “She is not the official hostess; she just steps in when her mother cannot attend ceremonial functions or when a spouse of a visiting dignitary has to be received. She is financially independent, does not live in Rashtrapati Bhavan and doesn’t use the facilities extended to her as the President’s daughter when she is out on her own. She does not attend Congress meetings with a PSO in tow or with the official car waiting outside,” said a source familiar with her.

    In 2012 when Mr. Mukherjee moved into Rashtrapati Bhavan, she had told The Hindu that she has opted to retain a room at Rashtrapati Bhavan but doesn’t plan to stay there. “I love my space and privacy and am not ready to give it up,” she had said.

    Seen as an inheritor of her father’s political legacy, Ms. Mukherjee hit the headlines when she apologised on behalf of her brother for making a comment against women that led to public uproar soon after the December 16 gang-rape in Delhi. Her presence at political rallies ahead of the Delhi Assembly elections fuelled speculation that the ground was being prepared for her political debut.

    Officials familiar with protocol said it is not mandatory to have a hostess for ceremonial duties in Rashtrapati Bhavan. “There is no rule that makes it imperative to have a hostess; President Abdul Kalam was a bachelor. Even earlier, Rajendra Babu’s wife stayed away from functions, she would rarely accompany him on tours. Similarly, Giani Zail Singh’s daughter was the hostess during this tenure,” said one of them. (Special Reporter/HC)

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