Pranab Mukherjee, ‘dada’ of Indian politics, bids goodbye at 84

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NEW DELHI:

Pranab Mukherjee

, whose career on the national political stage began as a Rajya Sabha MP in 1969 and ended as President in 2017, passed away Monday evening at the age of 84 – 22 days after he was admitted to the Army Hospital (Research and Referral) in New Delhi following an emergency operation for a clot in the brain from which he never recovered. It was a rare defeat for a public figure who’d managed to defy the vicissitudes of politics and fickleness of personal equations to rise to the highest constitutional post in the land.

He had slipped into a deep coma, and his medical condition was further complicated as he tested positive for Covid-19 and finally succumbed to septic shock caused by a lung infection. The government has announced a seven-day period of mourning till September 6. Mukherjee was one of only three ministers in Independent India to have held three CCS (cabinet committee on security) positions: finance, defence and external affairs. He was also leader of the House in Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha.

A Congressman all his political life, barring a brief period when he fell out with

Rajiv Gandhi

, Mukherjee worked with three PMs: Indira Gandhi, whose attention he first caught, P V Narasimha Rao and

Manmohan Singh

. After his return to Congress, his career was revived by Rao who appointed him deputy chairman of the Planning Commission. However, he was passed over for the PM’s job in 2004 when Sonia Gandhi chose Manmohan Singh.

Mukherjee received the Bharat Ratna, the nation’s highest honour, last year, a recognition that stood out because it was conferred at the behest of a government belonging to a party he had consistently opposed. Earlier, BJP’s allies JD(U) and Shiv Sena had broken ranks from their NDA partners to support his presidential bid.

Pranab Mukherjee: From Mirati To Rashtrapati BhavanThough not a mass leader — he won only one Lok Sabha election, in 2004 and never made a mark in state politics — he was the go-to man in successive governments for trouble-shooting assignments.

PresidentRam Nath Kovind, Prime MinisterNarendra Modi, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi led the nation in paying tribute to Mukherjee. A man of many hues, he was a voracious reader whose knowledge of history and politics was embellished by a ringside view of events of national import.

India grieves the passing away of Bharat Ratna Shri Pranab Mukherjee. He has left an indelible mark on the developm… https://t.co/KCDQY3beBT

— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi)1598877493000

His body will be laid in state at his residence 10, Rajaji Marg from 9am to noon on Tuesday and will be cremated at Lodhi Road crematorium at 2.30 pm.

Sad to hear that former President Shri Pranab Mukherjee is no more. His demise is passing of an era. A colossus in… https://t.co/OERB2XRwRT

— President of India (@rashtrapatibhvn)1598876714000

He was a key negotiator with the Left on the India-US nuclear de

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