Pranab Mukherjee Passes away- “The Man of all Seasons”

pranab mukherjee

Pranab Mukherjee passes away: He was born on 11 December 1935. Pranab was born in a Bengali family in Mirati, a village in, West Bengal, India. His father, Kamada Kinkar Mukherjee, actively participated in the Indian independence movement.

He was a member of West Bengal Legislative Council between 1952 and 1964 as a representative of the Indian National Congress and was the member of AICC. His mother was Rajlakshmi Mukherjee.

He went to Suri Vidyasagar College in Suri (Birbhum). He pursued his PG degree in Political Science & History and LL.B. degree; both from University of Calcutta

He worked as an upper-division Clerk in the Office of Deputy Accountant-General (Post and Telegraph) in Calcutta. In 1963, he later became a Lecturer (Assistant Professor) of Political Science at Vidyanagar College, Kolkata and he also worked as a Journalist with the Desher Dak (Call of Motherland) before entering politics.

Mukherjee made his debut in politics in 1969 when the then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi recognised Mukherjee’s talents and recruited him into the Indian National Congress and helped him get elected to the Rajya Sabha, on a Congress ticket. Mukherjee was re-elected to the house in 1975, 1981, 1993 and 1999.

He became one of Gandhi’s most trusted loyalist and is described as “man for all seasons” Mukherjee’s rise was rapid in the early phase of his career and he was appointed Union Deputy Minister of Industrial Development in Indira Gandhi’s cabinet in 1973.

Mukherjee was active in the Indian cabinet during the controversial Internal Emergency of 1975–77. Mukherjee worked in a number of ministerial capacities. He became the Finance Minister of India in 1982–84. He was also the Leader of the House in the Rajya Sabha from 1980 to 1985.

As the Finance Minister, Mukherjee appointed Manmohan Singh as Governor of the Reserve Bank of India

Mukherjee was considered the top-ranking Indian cabinet minister and he presided over cabinet meetings in the absence of the Prime Minister.  Mukherjee became Deputy Leader of the INC in the Rajya Sabha in 1979, and in 1980 he was appointed the Leader of the House

After the assassination of Indira Gandhi, Mukherjee was sidelined from the INC.  Prime Minister P. V. Narasimha Rao appointed him Planning Commission head in 1991 and foreign minister in 1995, which revived his political career again.

Mukherjee was the principal and architect of Sonia Gandhi’s ascension to the party’s presidency in 1998, as an elder statesman of the Congress.

Mukherjee has always been a Gandhi family loyalist and the principal architect of Sonia Gandhi’s entry into politics, a mentoring responsibility he is still believed to be shouldering.  He was made General Secretary of the AICC in 1998–99 after Sonia Gandhi became Congress President. Mukherjee became the President of the West Bengal Congress in 2000 and held the position until his resignation in 2010. He had earlier held the position in 1985.

Mukherjee became Leader of the House in the Lok Sabha in 2004.He contested and won a Lok Sabha seat from Jangipur in West Bengal which he would later retain in 2009. It was speculated in 2004 that Mukherjee would be made Prime Minister of India after Sonia Gandhi declined to become Prime Minister and Manmohan Singh was appointed.

Mukherjee held many important posts in the Manmohan Singh government. He had the distinction of being the Minister for various high-profile Ministries including Defence, Finance, and External Affairs.

Mukherjee also headed the Congress Parliamentary Party and the Congress Legislative Party which consists of all the Congress MPs and MLAs in the country apart from being Leader of the House in Lok Sabha and Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee President. Mukherjee ended his affiliation with the Indian National Congress and retired from active political life following his election as President in 2012.

He held a number of key cabinet portfolios – Defence (2004–06), External Affairs (2006–09) and Finance (2009–12) – apart from heading several Groups of Ministers (GoMs) and being Leader of the House in the Lok Sabha.

After securing the UPA’s nomination for the country’s presidency in July 2012, Mukherjee comfortably defeated P. A. Sangma in the race to Rashtrapati Bhavan, winning 70 percent of the electoral-college vote.

Pranab Mukherjee served as the 13th President of India from 2012 until 2017. In a political career spanning five decades, Mukherjee has been a senior leader in the Indian National Congress and has occupied several ministerial portfolios in the Government of India.

Prior to his election as President, Mukherjee was Union Finance Minister from 2009 to 2012. He was awarded India’s highest civilian honor, the Bharat Ratna in 2019 by the President of India, Ram Nath Kovind.

Pranab Mukherjee married Suvra Mukherjee on 13 July 1957. Suvra Mukherjee was born and raised in Narail, Bangladesh. She immigrated to Kolkata while she was 10 and got married to Pranab in 1957. The couple had two sons and a daughter.  Suvra died on 18 August 2015, aged 74 of heart failure while Mr.Mukherjee was still in office.

He is inspired by Deng Xiaoping and has quoted him quite frequently. His hobbies are reading, gardening and music.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, on 10 August 2020, Mukherjee announced on Twitter that he had tested positive for COVID-19 prior to his surgery to remove a blood clot in his brain. He was admitted to the hospital after accidentally slipping and falling in his bathroom. He is on ventilator support and in critical condition at the Army’s Research and Referral (R&R) hospital in Delhi.

On 13 August the hospital reported that Mukherjee is in a state of deep coma after he underwent a brain surgery, however his vital parametres remain stable.

On 19 August, the Army’s Research and Referral hospital said that the health condition of Mukherjee has declined as he has developed a lung infection.  On 25 August, his renal parameters became “slightly deranged”, with the condition worsening days later.

Former President Pranab Mukherjee died at the age of 84 on 31 August 2020. 

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