NEW DELHI: The 14th President of India Ram Nath Kovind is in Rashtrapati Bhawan after a swearing in ceremony that brought many firsts to the table.

“Jai Sri Ram” echoed through the Central Hall of Parliament for the first time since Independence during the oath taking ceremony of a President of India. This slogan had emerged as something of a war cry during the movement for the demolition of the Babri Masjid led by LK Advani and others.

The President hmself ended his speech in which he equated Mahatma Gandhi and the late Jana Sangh leader Deendayal Upadhyaya’ vision for an egalitarian society.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi ensured that the message had not escaped the politically tardy and said again in a speech to BJP Members of Parliament that the “journey started by Shyama Prasad Mookeree, during which many people sacrificed everything, has reached a significant milestone today as the new President takes oath.” Mookerjee was the founder of the Jana Sangh.

And of course, perhaps predictably, the President spoke of Ambedkar and Vallabhai Patel but left India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru out of his address. BSP leader Mayawati was of the view that President Kovind ---who went to Gandhi’s samadhi as per procedure---should have also offered tribute to Ambedkar at his statue or photograph within the premises of Parliament.

The Congress protested weakly over this omission, and the reference to Upadhyaya. And as if to add salt to te injury BJPs Vice President candidate Venkiah Naidu struck a similar note later in the day through a tweet where he reminded all that the party BJP “is like mother & we should never forget our mother.”

The Congress was totally outwitted by the BJP in the selection of the Presidential candidate. Despite talking about it for weeks, and making contact with different political parties for a joint candidate, the Congress was caught off guard with the BJP’s decision to field the Governor for the Presidential election. In a last minute scurry, the Congress changed its original choice Gopal Gandhi---currently the Opposition candidate for the Vice President---to Dalit leader Meira Kumar but the election showed sufficient chips in this armour with cross voting benefiting the BJP all across.

President Kovind spoke of unity in diversity but the shift that brought the ideology of the Sangh parivar centre to the highest office of the land was evident to all.