Pranab Mukherjee, former President, passes away at 84

Pranab Mukherjee, former President, passes away at 84

Former President of India and Congress party veteran Pranab Mukherjee passed away on Monday at the age of 84. Earlier today, hospital officials said that their condition had worsened and that they were in a state of septic shock due to lung infections. His death was announced by his son Abhijeet Mukherjee.

Pranab Mukherjee made Rashtrapati Bhavan accessible to common citizens, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Monday as he paid his tribute to the former president–the “scholar par excellence and a towering statesman”.

“India grieves the passing away of Bharat Ratna Shri Pranab Mukherjee. He has left an indelible mark on the development trajectory of our nation. A scholar par excellence, a towering statesman, he was admired across the political spectrum and by all sections of society,” the Prime Minister said in a series of tweets.

Modi offered condolences to the late Congress veteran’s family, friends, admirers and supporters across India and said he will always cherish his interactions with Mukherjee.

“I was new to Delhi in 2014. From Day 1, I was blessed to have the guidance, support and blessings of Shri Pranab Mukherjee. I will always cherish my interactions with him. Condolences to his family, friends, admirers and supporters across India. Om Shanti,” he tweeted.

“With a Heavy Heart, this is to inform you that my father Shri #PranabMukherjee has just passed away in spite of the best efforts of Doctors of RR Hospital & prayers, duas & Prarthana from people throughout India! I thank all of You,” his son Abhijit Mukherjee tweeted.

In his over five-decade-long political career, Mukherjee held various Cabinet positions for the governments led by Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, P V Narasimha Rao and Manmohan Singh.

Fondly called ‘Pranab Da’ by his peers and friends, Mukherjee was born on December 11, 1935, in Birbhum district, West Bengal. He completed a Masters in Political Science and History and an LLB degree from the University of Calcutta.

It all started when Indira Gandhi spotted him during a by-election in Midnapore where he was V.K. Krishna Menon’s election agent. His astute management saw Menon, a Malayali contesting in West Bengal as a candidate of Congress’ rival faction Bangla Congress, win with a huge margin.

Impressed with his political acumen, Gandhi brought Mukherjee into the Congress and initiated his parliamentary journey through the Rajya Sabha in 1969. Mukherjee first became the general secretary of the Congress in 1998. He was a member of the Congress Working Committee for 23 years. It’s a mixed bag legacy for the politician who won his first election in 2004 from Jangipur in West Bengal.

Mukherjee became India’s youngest finance minister in 1982 at the age of 47. From 2004, he went on to head three crucial ministries — external affairs, defence and finance — and became the first occupant of the Rashtrapati Bhavan to have this distinction.

The 84-year-old served as India’s 13th President from 2012-2017. A tough taskmaster, avid reader and history aficionado, Mukherjee ensured that he leaves his mark on the presidency. He made it easier for common people to visit the Rashtrapati Bhavan. Pranab Mukherjee was honoured with Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian award in 2019.

Mukherjee was known to have generously shared his experience with others, cutting across party lines. Political leaders across the sector offered their condolences to the bereaved family.

Pranab Mukherjee underwent brain surgery on August 10 and had since been in a coma. He was admitted to the Army Hospital (R&R) in the Delhi Cantonment area where he was put on ventilator support after the surgery.

Earlier in the day, the hospital had issued a statement saying there was a decline in the condition of the former president’s health. He died in the evening at the hospital. The news was shared on Twitter by his son Abhijit Mukherjee.