Former President Pranab Mukherjee no more, nation mourns ‘passing of an era’

Former President of India, Pranab Mukherjee, passed away at the Army’s Research and Referral Hospital in the National Capital on the evening of Friday, 31st August. He was 84 years old.

Sharing the information about the passing away of the former President, his son Abhijit Mukherjee on Friday evening tweeted, “With a Heavy Heart , this is to inform you that my father Shri Pranab Mukherjee has just passed away inspite of the best efforts of Doctors of RR Hospital and prayers, duas and prarthanas from people throughout India ! I thank all of You.”

Mukherjee was admitted to hospital on August 10th for the removal of a clot in the brain. Later he also tested positive for COVID-19 in hospital. For next several weeks, the former President remained on ventilator, before breathing his last on Monday.

Personalities from across the country have condoled the demise of Mukherjee. Present Ram Nath Kovind said that “this is passing of an era.” He said that his predecessor Mukherjee “served mother India with the soul of a sage.”

Showering praises on the works and achievements of the former President, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “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.”

“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,” The Prime Minister added reflecting on his personal relations with Mukherjee.

Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh under whom Mukherjee served as the Finance Minister, recalled his former colleague saying, “In his death, our country has  lost one of its  greatest leaders of Independent India.  He and I worked very closely in the Government of India and I depended on him a great deal for his wisdom, vast knowledge and experience of public affairs.”

Congress supremo Sonia Gandhi also expressed sorrow at the passing away of the old knight of the party. “It is hard to imagine how we can do without his wisdom, experience, advice and deep understanding of so many subjects. He brought distinction to every post, established a genuine rapport with colleagues across the political spectrum and served our country with the utmost dedication,” she said.

“His life over the past 50 years mirrored 50 years of the history of India, for he played a crucial role in both shaping the course of events as well as actively participating in them, whether as a cabinet minister, parliamentarian or President of India,” Mrs Gandhi wrote in her letter.

Senior BJP leader LK Advani also extended condolences. ” I am deeply saddened to condole the passing away of my longtime and close colleague Shri Pranab Mukherjee ji,” he said.

“Pranab Da was known and respected for his sharp, analytical mind and was someone who believed in the necessity of dialogue and cooperation among people of various ideological and political backgrounds. His own reflective nature, combined with his long and varied experience in public life, made him a statesman who was admired by people across the political spectrum,” he further said.

“To me personally, he was more than a colleague and we have shared valuable moments both inside and outside of our public lives, which extended even to our families. The memories of various lunches we shared together will always be special in my heart,” Advani added.

Meanwhile, Ministry of Home Affairs announced seven days of national mourning as a mark of respect.

“The Government of India announces with profound sorrow the death of Shri Pranab Mukherjee, former President of India at Army Research & Referral Hospital, New Delhi on 31st August, 2020. As a mark of respect to the departed dignitary, seven days State Mourning will be observed throughout India from 31.08.2020 to 06.09.2020, both days inclusive. During the period of State Mourning the National Flag will fly at half-mast on all buildings throughout India, where it is flown regularly and there will be no official entertainment. The date, time and venue of the State Funeral will be intimated later,” the ministry said in an official statement.

Pranab Mukherjee’s 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 been the backbone of Indian Government on more than one occasion.

Pranab Mukherjee was Minister of Finance between 2009 and 2012, Minister of Defence (2004-2006), Minister of External Affairs (2006-2009).