Pranab ‘Babu’ breathes his last

Intro: Pranab Mukherjee was the President of India from 2012 to 2017. He was conferred the Bharat Ratna, the highest civilian award, in 2019, and the Padma Vibhushan in 2008

New Delhi: Pranab Mukherjee, a former President, the man who missed becoming the Prime Minister of India by a whisker, the Congress party’s trouble-shooter during the UPA rule and the unlikely Congressman with proximity to Prime Minister Narendra Modi (the Prime Minister refers to him as ‘Dada’), breathed his last at the age of 84, marking the end of an era.

Detected with COVID-19, he was on ventilator following a brain surgery to remove a blood clot.

The former president was admitted to the Army’s R&R Hospital in Delhi Cantt on August 10 in what the hospital described as a “critical condition”. A scan at the hospital revealed a large brain clot for which he underwent emergency life-saving surgery. After the surgery, he continued to remain critical and on ventilator support while also being detected with COVID-19.

He is survived by his sons, Abhijit and Indrajit Mukherjee, and daughter Sharmishta. Both Abhijit and Sharmishta have tried their hand at electoral politics. Abhijit Mukherjee suffered a shocking defeat last year in West Bengal’s Jangipur constituency while Sharmishta Mukherjee is the national spokesperson for the party her father once knew like the back of his hand. In 2015, Mukherjee lost his wife Suvra.

Mukherjee’s political career began in 1969, after being noticed for his by-election campaign management in Midnapore for an independent candidate — former diplomat and senior Congress leader V.K. Krishna Menon. Mukherjee became a member of the Rajya Sabha in July 1969, following which he was re-elected to the House in 1975, 1981, 1993 and 1999.

In 2012, in the twilight of his political career, he was made the President. During his tenure, Mukherjee brought in a refreshing change in the way one perceived Rashtrapati Bhavan. He earned the sobriquet of ‘People’s President’ as he charted his own course as Head of State.

When PM Modi took over in 2014, ousting the Congress-led government, the two unlikely personalities forged a relationship of mutual respect that saw the BJP government award the Bharat Ratna to Mukherjee and on that occasion, an emotional Narendra Modi thanked the man he fondly calls ‘Dada’ for “everything that you have done for the nation”.

Pranab with US Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

Images courtesy of (File photo) and (Photo: Twitter)

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