New Delhi: President Pratibha Patil`s farewell function in central hall of Parliament on Monday was a damp affair with a number of MPs skipping it.
Though the programme was short and without any unnecessary frills, the absence of several MPs from both the Treasury and the Opposition benches was a spoiler.
Several staff members were seen occupying the back benches.
Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar delivered the farewell address to Patil on behalf of the MPs. She described the outgoing president as one whose tenure saw the Rashtrapati Bhawan as a "symbol of dignity, grace and most importantly women`s empowerment".
"You are a role model for countless women of our country who constantly strive to better themselves and those around them," Kumar said about Patil, who is India`s first woman president.
She also praised Patil- who has served as a minister in Maharashtra government and also as a member of the Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha- for not losing any election that she contested. "This speaks volumes of your commitment to the welfare of the common man," Kumar said.
Prominent leaders and ministers attended the function. NCP Chief Sharad Pawar and his party colleague Praful Patel, who are engaged in a stand-off with the Congress these days, were present. Pawar sat in the front row next to Defence Minister A K Antony.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal sat next to Congress President Sonia Gandhi. This seat used to be earlier occupied by Pranab Mukherjee. Since Mukherjee is now the President-elect, he was conspicuous by his absence.