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Following the swearing-in of Pranab Mukherjee as the 13th President of India on 25 July, Government announced that 25 July would be celebrated as National Reconciliation Day.
A spokesperson for the government explained that proclamation of National Reconciliation Day became necessary after all of the parties in the governing ruling UPA coalition attended and sat through the entire President’s swearing in ceremony without bickering.
“There is no other way to explain this sudden demonstration of unanimous support within the coalition. As a tribute to the overwhelming sense of reconciliation, Government has proclaimed 25 July as National Reconciliation Day,” the spokesperson said.
In a rare public display of support for the government in which her party is a coalition partner, Mamata Banerjee endorsed the government’s announcement and said that she would not ask any of her ministers in the union cabinet to resign.
Ms. Banerjee had previously led a pitched battle against the nomination of Pranab Mukherjee for President and withheld her party’s support for Mr. Mukherjee till a day before the presidential elections. Casting aside decades of animosity that goes back to their early days together in the Congress Party, Ms. Banerjee attended the oath taking ceremony on 25 July in person. Immediately after the ceremony, she rushed past several other prominent guests in attendance to congratulate the new President.
In keeping with the spirit of National Reconciliation Day, the government is widely expected to reciprocate Ms. Banerjee’s public display of warm support by waiving all outstanding debts and quadrupling central grants for her government in West Bengal.
“If you can’t win fighting, win by kissing and making up,” she is reported to have whispered into the President’s ear during the congratulatory hand shake.
In another sign that National Reconciliation Day had been truly meaningful, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Congress ended weeks of acrimonious debate about who would sit where during the cabinet meetings.
“We are pleased to announce on this National Reconciliation Day that Congress and its coalition partner NCP have amicably resolved all issues of difference. A high-powered coordination committee has been constituted to discuss coalition politics on a regular weekly basis,” a Congress spokesperson said.
“However, the issue of exactly who will sit where during the weekly coordination committee meetings has yet to be resolved. An agreement has to be worked out,” the Congress spokesperson added.
Discussing the rapprochement between the NCP and the Congress in the ruling coalition, a Congress party insider suggested that in this era of coalition politics the issue of who sits next to whom during the cabinet meeting and other such issues of national importance was beyond reconciliation.
Instead, the party insider revealed that the Congress party was designing a special conference room for the weekly coordination meetings with specially fitted smoke and mirrors that give the illusionary impression that everyone is simultaneously sitting next to everyone else.
“I think everyone, including the government, is finally learning. In coalitions, as is anywhere else in politics too, differences and reconciliation are all about smoke and mirrors,” he said.