Reject Afzal Guru's mercy plea, Thackeray tells Pranab

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Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray on Monday wanted Pranab Mukherjee to begin his Presidency by rejecting the mercy plea of the 2001 Parliament attack death row convict Afzal Guru and create 'history'.

The demand by Thackeray, whose party supported Mukherjee's candidature, came less than 24 hours after the UPA nominee was declared elected as the country's next President defeating BJP candidate P.A. Sangma. Mukherjee is set to be sworn in on July 25 succeeding Pratibha Patil.

When asked to respond to Thackeray's demand, Mukherjee said he cannot comment on the clemency plea of Afzal till he assumed office and studied the issue.

"I can't comment on Afzal Guru until I have assumed office and gone through the issue," Mukherjee told TV channels in Delhi.

Congratulating Mukherjee on his victory, Thackeray said his party has great expectations from him.

"First of all, reject Afzal's mercy petition and hang him. Pranab should begin his presidency by rejecting this plea and create history. The terrorist who attacked the sovereignty of the country should not stay alive," Sena mouthpiece Samana quoted Thackeray as saying.

"You (Pranab) will have to perform this sacred duty," he said.

In his remarks, Mukherjee said he cannot make any comment on the Afzal clemency plea because these are the issues, which strictly came within the purview of the President's consideration.

"And President's action is to be done on the basis of the advice, which he or she gets from the Council of Ministers," he said.

"Therefore, these are the matters on which nobody will hear from me at any time under what circumstances I am taking the decision. Decisions may be known to the individual but the process of decision-making should remain secret."

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