Former President Pranab Mukherjee passed away on Monday following continuous decline in his health. Mukherjee underwent a brain surgery for the removal of a clot. He was 84.
He was arguably the longest experienced politician in the country in any party along with L K Advani; but Pranab tasted power for long, unlike Advani.
Born in a village called Mirati in 1935, Mukherjee had done his Masters in Political Science and History, and got himself a law degree, from the University of Calcutta by the time he began his political career in 1969.
He had even worked as a journalist briefly before taking his step into a political career that spanned nearly half a century. Over the next 48 years in public life, he held many responsibilities including being in charge of Ministries of Defence, External Affairs, Commerce, and Finance to name a few.
In 2010, he was awarded “Finance Minister of the Year for Asia” by London-based newspaper Emerging Markets for taking significant steps to reduce the budget deficit, in a year of global crisis.
His first attempt for the Lok Sabha seat in 2004 was successful when the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance came to power. “The prevalent expectation was that I would be the next choice for Prime Minister after Sonia Gandhi declined. This expectation was possibly based on the fact that I had extensive experience in Government, while (Manmohan) Singh’s vast experience was a civil servant with five years as a reformist Finance Minister,” he wrote in memoir, one of the four books he had authored in his lifetime.
Pranab had a liking for No. 13, though most would consider it inauspicious. Over the last many decades, till be moved to Rashtrapati Bhavan as he became the President, the modest No. 13, Talkatora Road, was his official residence in Delhi. He never vacated the house though he was entitled to bigger bungalows. His wife too had a liking for the house. After he shifted, the house was taken by his son Abhijit, who won from the Jangipur seat in West Bengal that Pranab vacated. In Parliament too, No.13 was Pranab’s ministerial room during the UPA regime.
Mr Mukherjee will be remembered for his exemplary service to the nation and his pursuit of excellence in public life.