GUWAHATI: Former President of India and stalwart of Indian politics, Pranab Mukherjee, breathed his last on Monday evening. He was 84.
The former President was earlier tested positive of COVID19 when he went to Army Hospital for another procedure. At the hospital, he underwent surgery for a blood clot in the brain.
His health reportedly started to deteriorate recently and was kept on ventilator support.
Known as Pranab Da in Indian politics, his highly estimable political career spanned five decades, the highest point of which came when he became President of India.
He was in the Presidential office from 2012 to 2017. But even before he assumed the highest office in the land, Pranab Mukherjee had served the country as one of the finest Union Finance Minister between 2009 and 2012, Minister of Defence (2004-2006), Minister of External Affairs (2006-2009).
A staunch Congressman, Mukherjee was praised highly even by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on multiple occasions. Pranab Mukherjee was conferred Padma Vibhushan in 2008 and Bharat Ratna in 2019.
Just before finishing his office as the President of the country, on March 31, 2017, visited Guwahati to inaugurate a five-day Namami Brahmaputra river festival here in Assam and said that Assam has been emerging as an economic hub of East India and South East Asia, which is an important destination for India’s investment and trade.
The former President is survived by his three children- Sharmistha Mukherjee, Abhijit Mukherjee and Indrajit Mukherjee.
Immediately after his demise, the President of India Ram Nath Kovind tweeted: “Sad to hear that former President Shri Pranab Mukherjee is no more. His demise is passing of an era. A colossus in public life, he served Mother India with the spirit of a sage. The nation mourns losing one of its worthiest sons. Condolences to his family, friends & all citizens.”
Kovind added further, “Endowed with perspicacity and wisdom, Bharat Ratna Shri Mukherjee combined tradition and modernity. In his 5 decade long illustrious public life, he remained rooted to the ground irrespective of the exalted offices he held. He endeared himself to people across political spectrum. As the First Citizen, he continued to connect with everyone, bringing Rashtrapati Bhavan closer to the people. He opened its gates for public visit. His decision to discontinue the use of the honorific ‘His Excellency’ was historic.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi too expressed his grief. He tweeted: “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.
As India’s President, Shri Pranab Mukherjee made Rashtrapati Bhavan even more accessible to common citizens. He made the President’s house a centre of learning, innovation, culture, science and literature. His wise counsel on key policy matters will never be forgotten by me.”
PM Modi also remembered the former Congressmen’s guidance and said, “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.”
Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal also expressed his gratitude for the departing soul. The chief minister tweeting an old image with the former President said, “The end of an era. My deepest condolences at the demise of former President of India, Bharat Ratna #PranabMukherjee ji. I join the nation in solemn prayers as one of our towering personalities in public life leaves for the heavens above. Om Shanti.”