Within hours of wife’s cremation, President back at work

New Delhi, Aug 19 (IANS) Within hours after his wife Suvra was cremated here on Wednesday, President Pranab Mukherjee was back at work at the Rashtrapati Bhavan.

In no time after the final rites, Mukherjee — known to be a strict disciplinarian — was attending to his official duties. His first duty was to pay tributes to Shankar Dayal Sharma, the ninth president of India.

Mukherjee paid floral tributes to Sharma, in the corridor in which the portraits of past presidents are lined, on the occasion of his birth anniversary.

“The First Lady’s cremation was at 10.30 a.m. By 12.30, the president was attending to his official duties,” said a Rashtrapati Bhavan official.

“After offering floral tributes to the former president, the president had the external affairs ministry brief him.

“Tomorrow he will host the leaders participating in the second summit of the Forum for India and Pacific Islands Cooperation (FIPIC),” the official said.

On Thursday morning, Mukherjee will host a ceremonial welcome at Rashtrapati Bhavan for the leaders of 14 Pacific islands who are in India to participate in FIPIC.

The president’s wife was rushed to the army’s Research and Referral Hospital’s intensive care unit on August 7 after her condition suddenly worsened.

The president had to cut short his two-day visit to Odisha and return to the national capital to be by his ailing wife’s side.

He continued attending his official duties, delivering his address to the nation on the eve of the Independence Day and even holding the customary “At Home” at Rashtrapati Bhavan on August 15 without once betraying any emotion to the world outside.

The first couple got married on July 13, 1957 and had been together for 58 years.

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