Ex-President of India Pranab Mukherjee, who died today at age 84, was a larger than life figure in Indian politics. He was born on December 11, 1935 in the village of Mirati, West Bengal and turned out to be a brilliant student, earning two Masters degrees. He had a short stint as a college professor and even a shorter stint as a journalist.
His family was already in politics, and he quickly gravitated towards it and grew to hold some of the topmost ministries in the Union cabinet, including Defence, Finance, Commerce and even Foreign Affairs, stopping short of becoming the nation’s Prime Minister, which many though he should have been.
With a photographic memory and an extraordinary sense of timing and ability to build consensus with charm and logic, he often solved tricky situations within the Congress and even in inter-party feuds that could have gone bad. His loyalty, though, was with the Congress till late in his career, and though eyebrows were raised when he visited the RSS headquarters, his charisma was such that nobody really went beyond that.
Many of his actions as minister (in different positions, especially as finance minister) may have been questionable, but Mukherjee had a great ability of handling every situation and going right to the point to solve it.
His entry into parliament, as his father did before him, was in 1969. He was truly the right hand man of Indira Gandhi, but was rebuffed by Rajiv, especially when he coveted the Prime Minister’s post. At one point of time, Mukherjee was one of the most influential politicians of the country. Most importantly, though his many actions as minister may have riled many, not a whisper of any scam ever touched him.
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In 2012 Mukherjee resigned from parliament. Later, he was sworn in as India’s 13th President, with support from all parties.
– India Legal Bureau